The world of dance music 25 years ago was a very different place from the one we now inhabit. Rave had transitioned through Hardcore into Drum & Bass whilst UK Garage was brewing nicely and the UK pop charts were full of underground dance records. Meanwhile, the likes of Mo Wax, Ninjatune and Compost were pushing away from the dancefloors, introducing blunted beats, jazz-fusion sonics and a whole new movement to electronic music. It was into this atmosphere that Freerange was born, a UK label that reaches its quarter-century this year. At the helm over the last 25 years has been the partnership of childhood friends Tom Roberts and Jamie ‘Jimpster’ Odell.
It’s been a long and eventful journey, from an era of 56k modems, faxed reaction reports and when DJs still bought actual records, Freerange has weathered many storms and sailed through some of the most revolutionary changes to hit the music industry. Through those 25 years, and like the proverbial comforting sound of Bob Ross’ voice, Jimpster’s own music and those artists he releases through the label remain a constantly reliable, not to mention dance floor-smashing presence through the ups and downs of the house music continuum.
This Anthology brings together some of Jimpster’s finest productions across two double pack vinyl LPs from the preceding two and a half decades, showcasing his detailed approach to production and proving why he continues to thrive in the current scene, continuing to be held in high regard by many of the founding fathers of house music and young up and coming producers alike.
The comp kicks off with the absolute dance floor fire of 2008’s ‘Dangly Panther’, a simple combo of some keys, some beats, some FX and a jazzy sample, but executed with such class and confidence that it became a deep house staple. ‘Seventh Wave’ first appeared in 2006 as part of Jimpster’s ‘Amour’ album. It’s a bit deeper, a bit techier and with a few more bleeps and plenty of that characteristic Jimpster heft and weight: proper 3 am business. ‘Don’t Push It’, features some of finest percussion you’ll hear on a contemporary house record, gorgeous strings and that indefinable something that Jimpster brings to all his records, that raise them above being a collection of pads, keys, beats and bass into compositions with longevity that you can dig out and play ten years after release and they still slay.
In some ways, this collection is a record of developments in UK Deep House as Jimpster slowly refined his sound over the years, continually reinventing the 4/4 template, creating new sounds, fresh chord progressions and original audio ideas, all geared towards creating memorable dance floor moments. He’s perfected a UK version of the sublime anticipation that is at the heart of the very best Deep House, that sense of sitting on the very edge of ecstasy, creating tracks that wonderfully stretch out those blissful moments.
What also becomes clear from listening through this compilation is the variety of styles and moods he’s bought to his releases. 2009’s ‘Sleeper’ for example is sleek, driving and futurist while 2018’s ‘Curve’ almost glows with a sun-kissed warmth. ‘Can’t Stop Loving’ from 2012’s ‘These Times’ EP is another tough jam, with its twisted vocal sample and prominent kick working in perfect sync with a set of classic Jimpster arms-in-the-air chords and wonderfully squelching bassline, an exercise in confident production. Meanwhile, the beguiling ‘Rollergirl’ has hints of EBM in its rigid sequenced bassline and epic pads.
Bringing us bang up to date is last year’s anthem-in-waiting ‘One’ featuring Casamena, a ticking time bomb of a track just yearning for a packed dance floor to go off in. Also included is the magnificent ‘English Rose’ featuring some of the tightest beats ever put on wax and its vocal-pads that are haunted by the ghost of ‘Blue Monday’. Ben Watt’s Buzzin Fly label was home to 2006’s ‘Square Up’, seven and a half minutes of gorgeous chords getting thoroughly rinsed out through a series of subtle peaks and troughs, Deep House heaven. In contrast, we’ve also included 2018’s absolute monster ‘Burning Up’, a taste of the tougher side of Jimpster’s production and a track 100% guaranteed to take the roof off every time. Likewise, his ‘A Love Like This’ is another crisp and highly efficient underground anthem. The album finishes on the almost-psychedelic sonic-soul treat ‘The Sun Comes Up’ featuring vocalist Jinadu, taken from the peerless ‘Silent Stars album.
In addition to Volumes One and Two, there is also a third (digital only) volume containing a selection of Jimpster’s more downtempo gems for the more horizontal moments.
Jimpster has become a watchword in house music for a particular kind of Deep House depth, warmth and groove, a reliable source of utterly solid dance floor jams, his production schedule a conveyor belt of high-quality sonic bombs, loved by DJs and punters alike. Here’s to another quarter of a century of Jimpster's music.
Published: 10th May 2021