Toronto's Azari & III released their self-titled debut album, Azari & III, on Turbo Recordings on August 9, and it's about as fresh as they make 'em. Sure, there are familiar elements of a number of genres here, but they're blended together and reworked in a way that makes listening to this album an experience of listening to something entirely new. Although this is Azari & III's debut album, they've been getting attention even before its release, with a recent appearance on Pete Tong's influential BBC Radio 1 show and positive feedback on the already-released singles from this album, "Reckless (With Your Love)" and "Manic".
Naysayers of the deep house sound might make claims that every track in the genre sounds basically the same, but Azari & III definitely know how to prove them wrong. "Lost In Time" feels vaguely tribal. "Into The Night" has a more poppy disco tone. For those who need vocals to connect with music, there's plenty of that, but it doesn't get in the way of the sounds that lie beneath. All in all, the album feels fairly happy and lighthearted, but there's also a hint of dissonance and darkness that comes out as the album continues. It starts with unbridled joy and slowly opens up into something more emotionally (and sexually) nuanced with tracks like "Manhooker", "Undecided" and "Manic".
This is the kind of album that you could play for a mixed crowd of snobby aficionados and people who couldn't care less about house music and receive full approval from both camps. It's credible, but at the same time it doesn't close anyone out and is sprinkled with definite dancefloor bangers. It's not esoteric, but it's smart and respectable, something you can listen to at home without guiltily dismissing it as "party music" but also music that you could party hard to given the right occasion.
It's up to you whether you'd like to grab the singles and ignore the rest, but I'd recommend listening to the album in its entirety at least once. Azari & III do a great job ordering the tracks so that those that might be deemed more abstruse (of which there are few) are matched with irresistible, more poppy anthems so that you'll always stay engaged, even during the most casual listen.
Purchase: Azari & III – Azari & III