Review | Lake People | Purposely Uncertain Field

Lake People

Purposely Uncertain Field

Permanent • Vacation

house \haus \ n + tech•no \tek-nõ\ n

With all the attention being paid to deep house and it's trendy rise to become the new "it" electronic-music genre, it's interesting how much dissension abounds when defining what deep house is supposed to sound like. While mine is only one opinion and unlikely to garner unanimous support—I can think of a few definitions that conflict with mine, and that's only accounting for opinions I respect—I like to think that I've been at this long enough to recognize the nebulous qualities of deep when I hear them. And those coming from German producer Martin Enke, known on dance floors as Lake People, is some of the best I've heard of late.

This should come as little surprise to many, given my unabashed favoritism of artists like Dixon, Âme, Tale of Us and labels like Innervisions, Life and Death and Permanent Vacation, the imprint Lake People calls home. In these artists and their labels, and across Enke's full length debut Purposely Uncertain Field, there always exists a certain meditative spaciness and a distinct lack of overdramatic flourish. There are those of the Larry Heard school of deep house who might argue for a bit more jazz and soul than comes through in the output I'm referring to here, but to me this embodies "deep," and given the word itself that makes sense.

It also applies very naturally to Enke's compositions. Across Purposefully Uncertain Field tracks like "Illuminated" are a well-struck balance of the blissfully hazy and the driving beat, creating an atmosphere that you can get lost in but still move to. With a rolling acid line and persistent snare stuttering, the track grows in size with the burrowing buzz of varied atmospherics and added intensity from rapid-fire 808 claps. By way of juxtaposition, it also moves along in an almost slow motion, pairing a sunk-in piano line with broad strokes of bright ambience. "Illuminated" leans decidedly techy, but deep nonetheless.

Shifting more in style than in mood, album opener "Escape Velocity" tones down all its edges, floating ahead with padded bass notes and the gentle shake of the tambourine. Synth lines call and respond like the colored tones of Close Encounters of the Third Kind—communication among the stars brought to life in musical form. Likewise, "Lamb Shift" evolves from a pulsating radar blip, swelling into what might best be described as new wave machine funk for its swirling mix of '80s electro and Vangelis synths. 

This idea of emotive cosmic dance music is further realized in the album's trio of interludes, songs like the ambient funk of "Orb," which serve as well-placed transitions and thematic joiners, brief moments that orbit more significant bodies but are no less important in defining Purposefully Uncertain Field as a whole. And that is key to what makes the record a worthwhile listen. 

Enke has had no trouble making fans within the deep house and techno DJ cognoscenti, scoring a number of set staples in recent years with 12" releases for underground Berlin highlight Krakatau Records and Guy Gerber's Rumors imprint. Translating those one-off productions into an album that feels cohesive and inspired thematically, and shows off a different level of songwriting is another feat entirely, especially in electronic music. It's also one that Lake People has no trouble doing here. Purposefully Uncertain Field is a musical world unto itself, one that is sleek, at times alien and unknown, ambient and air yet still potent, and without a doubt in my mind, deep.

— Joshua P. Ferguson


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