Album Review: X-Press 2 - The House Of X-Press 2

20 May 2012 | 5:23 pm | Darren Collins

Harking back to Frankie Knuckles era house - even featuring old schoolers Alison Limerick and Roland Clark.

It's nearly twenty years since Londoners Rocky, Diesel and Ashley Beedle birthed their X-Press 2 project, creating dancefloor mayhem with underground house classics like Music X-Press, London X-Press and Say What!. And the trio has continued to balance old school reverence with new school relevance ever since, always giving number one priority to the dancers. Their latest album now released here, and the first without Beedle, is the cheekily retro-styled and titled The House Of X-Press 2 and it does not deviate from this path, although it presents slightly cooler and less banging than their last long player, 2006's Makeshift Feelgood. The initial tracks keep the kids on side, This is War features Doll's punky, Nina Hagen-ish vocals and a sly nod to an early nineties Italian house classic, while Opulence is noisy, tribal, big room gear. Tracks such as Time featuring the frilly nu-wave vocals of James Yiull, and the dark, throbbing The Blast with its menacing b-line and faraway Rob Harvey vocals, also work hard to stay 'contemporary'. But the real joy of The House Of X-Press 2 lies in the tracks that attempt to update the sounds of old school - Let Love Decide and In The Blood featuring the unmistakable vocals of underground legends Roland Clark and Alison Limerick respectively; the bouncy Get On You takes it back to those early singles and New York clubs like Twilo and The Tunnel; and Lost The Feeling featuring Tim Deluxe could easily sit next to Lil' Mo Yin Yang's '95 classic Reach. On the way out Clark returns to give an evil yet spacey performance on Million Miles Away, harking back even further to Frankie Knuckles' Warehouse and the earliest days of house music. Skillfully blending the past and present, X-Press 2 have created a rare beast of an album that almost succeeds in being everything to everybody, old heads and young.