Liner Note Author: Jacob Arnold .
The excavation work of Chicago-based Jerome Derradji continues on the underground house music of the Frenchman's adopted hometown. KStarke Records, a label and Windy City shop operated by Kevin Starke, aka Jackmaster Hater, had existed for only a few years when Derradji's Still Music compiled this, but Starke's house connections go much farther back, beginning with cassette tracks that he circulated to a select few, including demigod-level DJs Frankie Knuckles and Ron Hardy. KStarke Records: The House That Jackmaster Hater Built contains some of that material, along with rare and newer productions, a few of which popped up on vinyl during the late 2000s and early 2010s. Crystalite's "Cut by a Laser," the B-side to a 1986 12" released on the Playhouse label, was inspired by the heavily melodic sound of 1982-1983 Italo disco that Chicago tightly embraced. All other selections here, whether cut in the '80s, the early 2010s, or at some debated point in time between those periods, are stark, nasty house tracks -- psychedelic mixtures of pounding bass drums, menacing acid basslines, and livewire synthesizers. The sound quality is frequently poor, typically on the tracks associated with Hardy, but only so much could be done to them. A nine-minute Hardy edit titled "Happiness" sounds like it could have been an extract from one of the mixes archived on Deep House Page, with an assortment of vocals -- taken from songs like Deniece Williams' "Free," Inner Life's version of "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," and D-Train's "Keep On" -- placed atop relentlessly battering drums. Tracks credited to Jackmaster Hater himself aren't much cleaner. Even if they were as polished as a '90s Masters at Work release, they'd still be sleaze-slathered, exemplified by "Passion [Extended Unreleased]," which layers the voice of the great Robert Owens with demonic warbling, vulgar screams, and snatches of the Twilight Zone theme over throbbing drums. The tracks are tied together (sort of) by droid-like antagonistic interjections, such as "Your shit is wack," from Jackmaster Hater. The set is inessential for house heads who have little desire to dig much. For those with a tireless need to hear the darker side of the form's early years -- which continues to be emulated by the likes of Hieroglyphic Being, James T. Cotton, and D'Marc Cantu -- it's a delight. ~ Andy Kellman