This 2016 is the year of the return to the scene of Larry Heard who has been an essential artist for my personal as well as emotional development, and he has come back with an EP of four tracks for the Alleviated Records. I’ve always seen him as a model writer (even more than this), a kind of light for me. His own sounds which can be considered indeed - without any technical term – celestial, had an huge impact on my personal approach to writing, most of all, in the last 15 years.
I was like: “I lost something crucial”, that’s to say a bit discouraged when - being over thirty – I listened to his work for the first time. Anyway if you are late, dispite whatever hard-liners think, it doesn’t mean that you are off-target. That’s the opposite of it.
I found the music of Larry Heard in a moment of my life when I really needed particular sounds and some overnight guidelines. It wasn’t just a delayed journey through the wonders of house music, for which (I stress this) I’ve been late compared to the young technological as well as technocratic generations;
Larry immediately seemed to me an architect of the night, a purveyor of soft, deep and relentless lights. He is not just a musician.
Indeed Larry Heard – who started his own career as a fusion jazz drummer – he’s an artist, producer and certainly the spark of the Chicago’s house: without him today a considerable part of electronic sounds - which is now fashionable - would have no reason to exist. Together with pioneering Fingers Inc. (Heard, Robert Owens and Ron Wilson) and under the moniker of Mr. Fingers, Loosefingers, The Housefactors and many others (clearly including his own), Larry has been able to create a liquid line that has united - in a state of magic – funk sections, shades of jazz, ambient extracts, neo soul wonders by giving a significant and unforgettable boost to the movement thet we colloquially define as deep house.
Like every real creative, Larry Heard spread his art alone but he also joined with other artists, sometimes producing, other times remixing or making mystically “deep” some more commercial tracks thanks to his wise re-editing. I can assure you, who could be passionate about deep house or simply curious and not necessarly expert in this area, that searching for Larry Heard’s collaborations was, over the years, a really great growth experience as well as absolutely unique.
Besides his own solo works – none of which is to be missed, that’s obvious – evidences of Larry Heard can be found with Ananda Project, Massive Attack, Jordan Fields, Greg Kozo (the track with Allonymous is fantastic) Kuniyuki Takahashi, Kai Alcé, Villanova, Tom Trago and many others. The sound in the manner of Larry Heard is always distinctive, overhead, dreamy but also powerful and definite. Personally, I adore in particular his really successful and strongly “deep” collaboration with Nookie (his true name is Gavin Cheung). Among his solo works I have an emotional preference for “Loose Fingers” (2005) which is wonderful and very sensual, too; “Ammnesia” and “Introduction” – both under the moniker of Mr. Fingers – have literally consumed my stereo system.
For some years (which have been hard and controversial) one of my habits was to come back home at night and “turn on” Larry Heard. It was a sort of obliged and necessary act. Then, I don't even mind if I made it until 5:00 am with an overdose of smoking and not containable thoughts. Maybe I got sleepy but resisting the beauty wasn’t easy. And it also worked when Larry was “turned off”. That is to say taxi rides, maritime stops, silence after heavy conversations, the terrible mental workload about goodbyes and the next mind lavages, the setting of the heart and the senses in constantly evolving, the feral melancholy of your youth which becomes a memory, wonder that shrinks, oasis of light that fades away from your sight, your path, to turn into a fixed and forgetful star.
All this personal but also universal background, is subject to music and the one of Larry Heard was like a safe conduct, a sort of secular grace, a concrete rush of peace with open doors. As it should always be if you want to live without scheduling the end too much in advance because of your personal fears.
At the time my friends were very surprised by the fascination that I felt for the electronic music. Within those preconceived notions used for good which demean us for ever, I was seen like a rocker, a well-known keen on post-punk but also a geek endowed with a very unusual memory as regards dates of issues, band’s lines-up and much more. My willingness to house music – naturally not the commercial one - caught them all a little off guard. And so, like a lost little bird but already fully grown and in addition as a professional records seller, I was unconfortable about a definition of electronic genre that I liked the most and that I felt it captured my soul and took me home every night, the damned ones included.
And, thus, like all those people who start almost from zero I was used to draw up: deep house, ambient deep house, minimal techno, nightscape deep soulful house and so on… I searched for definitions, I looked into it and I studied it.
Then, I don’t know exactly when, I decided that I finally got tired of being a simply learner. I took Larry Heard and I put him in the middle of my chest like a flagship. From there he would have spread a certain dose of knowledge and curiosity, that was a big deal. If today I love and I have discovered figures like Ron Trent, Frankie Knuckles, Carl Craig, Glenn Underground, Swayzak, Brendon Moeller, Rick Wade and many others I owe it to Larry Heard.
And If I came back home safely in the nights of the showdowns, of the incense mixed with burned sugar I owe it to those sounds that let me override and break the roofs of the cabs as well as all the closed windows. Those sounds which flung themselves safely and dreamy on sealed lips, broken promises and never solved loss, suggested me another way, different estuaries, other suggestions that were tinged with blue and ready to give me a blanket as well as a hug before sleeping.
Larry Heard is back in this 2016. I’m not so young as I believed, or rather, as I’d liked to think. When I’m tired, far from the sun, confused about the plans, my age in the mirror is evident and I can feel it right into my stomach.
However I got the new Larry Heard. And I’ve been waiting for the night so as to spin it over and over. It was not exactly in the middle of the night, but rather under that light which anticipates it and that seems to welcome it with a great devotion, that kind of blue which doesn’t exclude the black of the after and the red-purple of the before, just the moment before the right night.
I lit up a cigarette that – as it’s generally known – measures the distances and… it worked. Once more and as I hoped. “Aether” was the highest point of the new adventure with Larry Heard. I don’t know how could be right this kind of journey, because today’s history, that of mine and generally, seems more to push for slowed down neurosis rather than spiritual and overnight paths, the essence of Larry Heard.
That obvious point that it’s never too late to learn is true.
Some branches of electronic music, a lot of them fortunately, are actually indipendent universes, endowed with a spirit that I like to define as “emotional entrepreneurship” and with the building of sound scenarios. Not only music for a fashion show, it would be dismissive. It is also the right music to go deep into the abyss, it doesn’t matter it is celestial (like the one suggested and carved by Larry Heard) or if it borders on concern that needs a mix (a very suitable word, in this case) of sets, road maps, ports, leads, sensuality, silence and recurrences.
At a certain point, it is necessary to settle – even by a simple and harmless written acknowledgement - your own training influences. So I just can thank Larry for the journeys, the routes to his journeys and his creativity.
We must not forget that curiosities and devotions are always related to chaos. Like love, this one even more than any attempt on peace. The important thing is to go down without fear where the call is not cowardice, artifice, confined hate. You’ve got to go down. Larry Heard is one of those who can help you to do that.
Because being “deep” doesn’t mean being “down”. Let’s face it once and for all. Larry has proved it.
Luca De Pasquale 2016
(Translated into English by Manuela Avino)