Holy Garage – Surprise (Isolee remix)

Isolee has long been lodged in the upper ranks of my favourite producers, and this is one of the tracks that helped put him there. My copy appears on a cryptic 1996 12″ on Eye Q (licensed from the very first release on Playhouse) along with a LoSoul mix, but it’s Isolee who steals the show. To a casual listener, the tiny snippet of First Choice vocal, Rhodes chords, shuffling drums and rubberised bassline place it in deep house territory, but Rajko Muller’s gloriously weird touches give it an unsettling, narcotic quality. From the subtle pitch bends, detuning and dub effects throughout, to the stuttering, skipping rhythmic fills which sound like equipment malfunctioning, it straddles the divide between pop and avant garde like it ain’t no thang. No one else makes music quite like this, and isn’t that the mark of a true great?


NB: Seventeen years, three albums and one crossover smash (Beau Mot Plage) down the line, he’s still on untouchable form, with Allowance a strong contender for my tune of the year so far.

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