When ex- Soup Dragon/The High Fidelity frontman Sean Dickson dropped his debut long player Ft. under his Hifi Sean guise last year, he’d crammed years of experience on the electronic scene into a wide ranging album that touched on vocal house anthems, space disco, spooked electronica and tech tinged pop.
Plus, in the Crystal Waters-featuring "Testify", he had a bona fide big room anthem with major pop potential. The track was picked up by legendary house label Defected, who helped it realise its potential, making it one of the biggest sellers in the physical sales charts so far this year. With this, alongside the 21st Century Detroit influenced euphoria of "Lost Without You" (featuring Paris Grey from Inner City), he's taking the sound of the underground and pouring into genuine pop nuggets.
Ft. Excursions, a limited edition Record Store Day release, isn't a leftovers package, nor a bunch of remixes collected to keep the interest in the original album going. Instead, it’s looking at that album from a different perspective. What made Ft. such a satisfying listen, and much more than just a ‘house DJ does album’ exercise, was how emotive it was; underneath the music born from the thud of a dancefloor lay an appealing undercurrent of melancholy which ran throughout.
This is a stripped back version of that album, dubs of the originals which forward the clock by several hours away from the club to after party. "Monday Morning Sunshine"'s beatless, string-drenched build - which eventually breaks into the kind of mellow tribal beats purpose built for warm comedowns - is reminiscent of the sublime balearica of One Dove’s near perfect ’93 album Morning Dove White. The reboot of the Bootsy Collins-featuring "Atonium" by Ray Mang and Horsemeat Disco's secret weapon Severino turns down the block party p-funk stylings of the original and moulds it into a premium piece of low paced acid dub, and Sean's own revisit of the David McAlmont-featuring "Like Josephine Baker" (the dazzling highlight of Ft.), is transformed from a prime piece of cosmo-disco into a beefy, bass-heavy piece of future-soul, again proving to be a high point amongst many.
Elsewhere, the wildly electic In Flagranti take the pop joy of "Testify" and transform it into a fierce piece of jacking electro, Yam Who reworks "In Love With Life", the collab with Yoko Ono, into a piece of synthy house warmth, while "A Kiss Before Dying" - the final recording by Suicide's Alan Vega prior to his death - is twisted into piece of minimal psychedelia.
It's all too easy to fall into the trap of 'deluxe' edition leftover projects or pointless compilations of remixes, but on Ft. Excursions, Hifi Sean bucks the trend and conjures up something just as magical as the album it accompanies.