So you would expect that Lewis would have a solid grasp of what pleases the crowds. Another Mid Tempo seems to suggest otherwise. Deep house is, by definition, more relaxed than its faster or "harder" cousins like funky house or hard house, but this album takes relaxation to extremes. An uninitiated listener might get the impression that every track is running at three-quarters speed. The vocals sound stretched and slightly drunken, the rhythms seem muffled, as though heard through cotton wool, and the tracks seem to go on far longer than they should. And the novice listeners would have good reason for their confusion: the tracks don't just sound like 45 rpm LPs running at 33 1/3 rpm - they actually are 45's running at 33 1/3. His website proudly proclaims that Glen is "a pioneer of the MidTempo trend" - a trend which seems to centre entirely around an old DJ trick for stretching a track out when you need to nip to the loo.
What makes this album offensive is not that it makes use of trickery to conjur up an entirely new "trend" in deep house. House music is, in itself, a trick - a mish-mash of samples and melodies drawn from every genre of music and welded into an unexpected new configuration. Why should Lewis's own trick be discarded as unworthy? No, what makes this album offensive is a far more serious crime - it is dead boring.
Yes, the album is exceptionally well produced and mixed, with production values easily as good as overseas labels. Yes, a few of the tracks, like DJ Mbuso's "Mbuso's Revenge" do take on a haunting poignancy. But for the most part the tracks suffer badly at 33 1/3, sounding washed out and off kilter, their delicately balanced rhythms thrown out and their four minutes of snap-n-crackle stretched to 5:30 of soggy sizzle. What remains of these once lively house tunes is more Pass Out than Chill Out, and becomes duller and drearier every time you listen to it.
Perhaps if you're part of da Glenzito's scene you "get" this album. Perhaps the right crowd, the "in" crowd, appreciates what Lewis is on about, and the rest of us are just ignorant plebs. If that sort of thinking is allowed to prevail then South Africa's music scene will remain petty, provincial and ultimately self-defeating.
- Alistair Fairweather
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