Raund Haus: RH-101

★★★★ 

[Raund Haus; Feb. 26]

There’s an image I will forever associate with Raund Haus, the Durham-based collective and label that’s celebrating half a decade of far-out beats with the compilation RH-101.

It’s February, 2020, and a man dressed like an Old West undertaker is onstage at Motorco.

With a dramatic flourish, he presses a glowing button on a custom console, dropping a drum into the sample stretching the air, and this tall kid posted up by the stage just can’t take it. First, his arms fly up like he’s literally falling over the drop. Then, bobbing deeply, he clutches his head as if it were the only thing keeping him afloat on the vortex of the beat.

There’s something very Raund Haus about that union of heady music and bodily transportation. Even the out-of-town headliner at the show, Daedelus, is emblematic, as an emissary from the genre-omnivorous, fantastically stoned LA beat music scene (think Flying Lotus) that Raund Haus has replicated in Durham.

The comp features previously unreleased tracks from artists, mostly homegrown, who have played shows or released records with the crew. Beyond the commonalities between them—plush bass, inventively broken rhythms, mutated samples that taunt you to identify them—this set thrives on diverse approaches to an aesthetic that has fruitfully widened with time, admitting various strains of electronic dance music into its lo-fi hip-hop core.

Here, Saint James chops a soul song into a J Dilla jigsaw. There, Kyoju concocts serene, slippery study beats. Elsewhere, j0eru slips into a sweet spot between headphones and dancefloors, while Axnt infuses trap with fleet drum-and-bass palpitations. FootRocket’s evolution from blistering footwork to euphoric pop-house continues, while the ever-unpredictable Treee City runs a tasty electro-soul tune right up to the forbidden borders of dubstep.

For a crash course in the Raund Haus vibe, it’s the next best thing to one of their parties, and it portends more years of hip-shaking, head-nodding, mind-blowing music to come. 


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