Claude VonStroke is a well-respected maven of tech house and minimal house. His newest album, entitled Urban Animal feels like both a great accomplishment and somewhat of a disappointment at the same time. The main problem with Urban Animal is also its greatest asset; the album is so minimalistic that it can come across as overly repetitive. However, it still feels experimental and danceable, and tracks such as “Dood” and “Lay It Down Re-Smoked” are great for the dance floor, with the low-end 808 kick drum and subtle, yet funky bass elements.
Still, with a producer as great and talented as Claude VonStroke, there is a definite need for something more than just a great dance track. The track “Turbosteppa” for instance has an awesome LFO sub wobble in the chorus that is mind-blowing. Most of the tracks on Urban Animal don’t have any elements that intense. The drums in the “Lay It Down Re-Smoked-VIP Mix” were definitely heavily influenced by the legendary Roland TR-808 drum machine, but in this track in particular, VonStroke is forgetting that there needs to be more than just drums, a basic bass line and simple vocal samples.
There is one tune that VonStroke really did a good job on, and that’s “Dood.” With a Roland 303-esque bass line,VonStroke commands the club into a new era of deep/tech house madness. There’s also a great buildup midway through the seven minute masterpiece which utilizes a gospel vocal sample. “Sugar & Cinnamon” is one of the few cuts on the album to feature a guest singer, in this case Barry Drift. Two mediocre tracks on the album are “The Bridge” and “The Clapping Track.” “The Bridge” has an interesting filtered vocal effect, but the melody could have been much stronger and well-constructed. “The Clapping Track” feels like a cut simply on the album to show VonStroke’s skill with sampling claps. That particular track adds nothing at all to Urban Animal and is definitely a weak spot.
All in all, VonStroke’s latest addition to the deep house canon of studio albums is good, but not great. There seems to be very little soul and creativity on this album. Instead, there is a minimal world of beats, bass, and a few ordinary vocal samples.
Click here to listen to Urban Animal via Spotify
Click here to buy Urban Animal on iTunes