Various Artists Permanent Vacation 4
The Munich label compiles 12 tracks brimming with swirling synths, subdued rhythms and wistful melodies.
It’s good to know your strengths—and while Permanent Vacation has always had a wide-ranging sound that can veer from the dance-pop of Azari & III’s “Reckless With Your Love” to the light-headed techno of Locked Groove’s “Thesseus,” one of the Munich label’s biggest strengths has always been a kind of mid-tempo, head-trippy house that makes up in atmosphere what it might lack in propulsion. In the main, that’s what you get on the imprint’s latest collection of exclusive cuts—though, as you might expect from Permanent Vacation, the tracklist takes a few interesting side trips as well.
The label’s always had a thing for boogie-tinged material, and one of Permanent Vacation 4’s rambles takes us to Prins Emanuel’s bassline-driven “Ivy’s Boogie,” a bassline-driven track with a sparse rhythm that nicely approximates the work of Gwen Guthrie–era Sly & Robbie. On a similar tip, Alex Burkat channels an early-’80s sunset-disco party with the sweetly sparkling “Brooklyn Bridge,” brimming with low-end bump and smiling vibes. Man Power’s “Pelame,” meanwhile, heads off in a slightly darker direction, with droning synth-bass and marching-to-heaven melody anchored by a rhythm that’s one-half Chicago and one-half Düsseldorf (with its syncopated guitar adding a touch of Jamaica), while Suzanne Kraft’s slinky, tropics-kissed “Tiles” would fit right in at a lazy, swaying stoned-soul picnic.
They’re all fine tracks, but it’s the set’s dreamland-house numbers that are Permanent Vacation 4’s wheelhouse. Carrot Green’s dubbed-out “Vodou” layers chiming bells toasting vocals and a sinuous shofar over a pulsing bass to otherworldly effect, while Benedikt Frey’s Lucid Dream” conjures up arcane rites via spectral vocal samples, sighing synths and ritualistic rhythms. But there’s more than moody shamanism on tap here: the gentle keys of Hugh Mane’s “Interstellar” provide a perfect pillow for a kaleidoscopic reverie, while the loping pace and cicada-call synths of Hi & Saberhagen’s “Spreepark” bring back melancholy memories of late summers gone by, fading into ether of time. That same kind of pensive wistfulness feeling runs through “Seaside Special” from Fantastic Man as well, with swirling synths and a yearning melody proving a bed for a percolating bassline. Like much of this compilation, it’s a subdued beauty, the kind of track that invites wandering introspection.
01. Hi & Saberhägen “Spreepark”
02. Carrot Green “Vodou”
03. Young Marco “Dreamless”
04. Fantastic Man “Seaside Special”
05. Prins Emanuel “Ivy’s Boogie”
06. Alex Burkat “Brooklyn Bridge”
07. Man Power “Pelame”
08. Benedikt Frey “Lucid Dream”
09. Hugh Mane ‘Interstellar”
10. Cleveland “Rio”
11. Map.ache “Let Me Sleep”
12. Suzanne Kraft “Tiles
Permanent Vacation 4 is out August 19.