Welcome to X House Music/Going Country – X House Music (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

I still haven’t quite got my head around where X House Music fits into the scheme of things. A platform for new music? A remix service? A broad-minded music gene splicer? Perhaps even a sonic version of the Algonquin Table? I don’t know. Not that it really matters. Anyone who is helping new music muscle its way through the crowded musical landscape and get noticed gets my vote.

X House Music is a strange sonic beast with much of its collective back catalogue falling into infectious dance territory, house grooves with with one eye on the clubland cognoscenti the other on chart positions. Elsewhere it is happy to make a sort of electro-beat country music. You can’t say that what is going on under the XHM banner isn’t different from the norm. Well, you can…but you’d be wrong. Very wrong.

This month has seen the release of Going Country, a collection of tracks which merge classic country sounds with clubland beats and the result is rather refreshing. If upbeat country music is the stuff of line-dancing lore then these songs lead those line dancers on a groovesome boogie through the downtown clubs and underground hotspots. Truly a place where urban cool and rural swagger cut some unique sonic moves across the city night and out into the backwoods. Violins shimmer, steel pedals shine and infectious beats provide the energy. Very cool. Very funky.

Prior to this Welcome to X House Music was a sonic package more in keeping with the expectations of the image of the brand. Label. Showcase. Whatever this is. Surrender is a slinky, late night torch song, Mother Russia is a bundle of pent up energy which explodes in futuristic riffs, great grooves, bold beats and otherworldly digital dreams. It’s also interesting to hear songs such as I’m Already Your Hero which feature in their cowboy booted form on Going Country but are found here in an earlier musical guise, one that pitches them straight at the Ibiza party scene or the underground Euro-dance community.

Various remixes, reworkings and reexaminations can also be found, showing that there is no such thing as a finished song. There is always somewhere else that it can go, a new form that it can take, a new audience it can seduce. And that is what lies at the heart of X House Music, the idea that a song can be all things to all people. Just because one day it turns up in Day-Glo lycra fit for the a night in the town’s more exclusive nightclubs and the next it is doing an impression of your favourite country cousin, doesn’t mean that it is confused. What it means is that it isn’t afraid to explore its potential. Maybe more artists should take such an approach. Actually, there is no maybe about it.

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