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Given Julius Steinhoff and Dionne’s stewardship in filtering the creme-de-la-creme of house music from the underground and into clubs across Europe and further afield, it would be particularly cliched on this occasion to stress that their second record is “eagerly awaited.” In their own way, they have already given us enough great records. But with ‘Afterglow’, we get another, and more importantly, one carved directly from the hearts and record collections of two individuals whose understanding of dance music appears to be some sort of blissful second-nature. This sort of earned assuredness is immediately established on opening track ‘Magic Interference’, a rolling, deep and somewhat jazzy house number with tumbling keys and sky-walkin’ chords. This steady, blissful vibe sets the tone for the first half of the record, as the pair patiently unfold their touchstones; equal parts Chicago (‘Hearts at Whole’), Detroit (‘All States of Dawn’) and Hamburg, famed for it's transatlantic routes via groundbreaking clubs such as Front, it's a crystalline distillation of a sound that’s earnest, but never nostalgic. Intuitive selectors as they are, Smallpeople pick the ideal moment to up the pace for the home-run, defined here by the spiky, disco bassline of ‘Beyond’, an unexpected ingredient that Steinhoff and Dionne nevertheless manage to diffuse into spacedust. It’s a brilliant wrong footing before the wide-eyed, warm-hearted anthem-in-waiting, ‘Sonic Winds’, a wonderfully cheeky glimpse of Smallpeople as peak time heroes, before the acid-flecked shuffle of Benevolent Reciever reveals their spiritual soundboy side. In conclusion, title track ‘Afterglow’ surmises the generous spirit at the heart of Smallpeople’s operation; a sensitive and irresistible ode to record stores, parties, community and discovery. So, worth that seven year wait? Who cares about time, when your music’s this timeless?
Artwork by Stefan Marx