Review: Tony Lionni releases A Photograph of You on Goldmin

Artist: Tony Lionni
Title: A Photograph of You EP
Label: Goldmin
Cat No: GMND017
Release Date: Out Now!
Genre: House

Back in 2009 Tony Lionni announced his arrival as a major player on the house music scene with the mesmerising ‘Found A Place’. Released on Berlin’s brilliant Ostgut Ton label, the anthemic deep house cut rocked floors from Berghain to Ibiza with it’s shimmering pianos and irrepressible melody. Rumour has it that prior to the release Lionni was close to being forced to live on the streets, desperately trying to carve out a living through his music. ‘Found A Place’ crossed over on a massive scale, finding it’s a way into the bags of house and techno jocks across the globe.

Since the success of ‘Found A Place’ Lionni’s discography has seen him releasing for a near whose who of house music originators. EPs on Francois Kevorkian’s Wave imprint and Kerri Chandler’s Madhouse, to name just two, have seen Lionni thread together deep soulful house and effervescent Detroit techno in his own distinctive style. Skip forward to 2015, with two albums successfully negotiated, it’s an interesting period for this artist as we see where his next steps will take him. Over the last few years he has not been at his most prolific, however it’s a testament to the timeless quality of many of his tracks (a rare thing indeed in modern dance music) that many of his older tracks pop up in the sets of trending house DJs such as George Fitzgerald.

So what about the music on the new EP I hear you say? Entitled ‘A Photograph Of You’, the EP comprises of three tracks of atmospheric house, which wear the influences of Lionni’s past proudly but also give us clues about his future musical direction. First up is ‘Remember Back When’, a nostalgic wash of dreamy pads and elegant piano lines underscored by a pulsating square wave bass. This is pure deep house bliss, which harks back to Larry Heard and early Chris Brann cuts.

Secondly comes the cryptically titled ‘There Is No Future In The Past”. With its forward thinking intent and insistent arpeggiated lead line, the track comfortably straddles the border between house and techno. The old school rave stabs seem to be a knowing nod to Lionni’s Hacienda days (he proudly owns a piece of the original dance-floor) and the track peaks in a haze of delay and echo. Out of the three, this is the most dance-floor orientated and will certainly find some rotation in the main rooms.

To round things off comes ‘Together’. A straight house track, which sets a balearic vibe with its echoing ‘sueno’ style atmospherics. Again Lionni uses sustained washed out pads to create a drifting rising groove, which wraps you up in it. Finely controlled musicianship is the key here and Lionni’s love of jazz, early house and electro shine through without ever spoiling the party. This is intelligent house music minus the noodling, with enough kick and urgency to make it relevant for the next generation of house fans. Overall it’s a fine effort and whilst none of the tracks quite scale the stratospheric heights of ‘Found A Place’ they are worthy additions to his back catalogue. There may indeed be no future in the past but Tony Lionni seems determined to mould a future sound for house that recognises and builds upon it’s past achievements.

About the Author

Record collector, music maker and spurs fanatic Geraint Rees has been involved in DJing and club promotion for well over a decade. He is currently a promoter and DJ for the four:four project, a Manchester collective who organise club events that support a range of worthwhile charities and promote high quality music. Over the last few years he has produced techno as Acitone for labels such as Stripped and Hype Music. In his free time, he is found regularly inhabiting a dark box like hole known as ‘the studio’ and trying to rear his band of unruly cats.