Right place, right time. It's an old cliché, but it's one that's been the definition of Dennis Ferrer's musical career. Just as the dance music world was heading into the world of afro-centric house, Ferrer was there. And then, when it began to embrace the mix of tech and soul, Ferrer was there again, leading the way with his impeccable productions. As Ferrer goes, it seems, so does electronic music. And, as someone who's never content to do the same thing twice, it's clear that he'll be staying on top for years to come.
Ferrer burst back into the consciousness of most dance music heads with the release of "Sandcastles," (Ibadan) his collaboration with Jerome Sydenham in 2003. A throwback to his techno roots as producer of the first ever release on Synewave in 1994 and mixed with a healthy dose of soul, the track was a massive hit for the duo. But, to his credit, Ferrer didn't simply repeat the formula afterwards. Instead, whether it's been the gospel house sounds of his remix of Blaze & Barbara Tucker's "Most Precious Love" (Defected) or the deeper-than-deep rework of Fish Go Deep's "The Cure & The Cause," (Defected) Ferrer has continued to push a variety of genres all at once. It's clear that Ferrer isn't content to rest on his laurels: he's too busy dreaming up new ways to shock and delight audiences.
Of course, we do say "back" into the consciousness of dance music heads because Ferrer has been around for far longer than 'Sandcastles'. He was crafting techno records in the mid-'90s as Morph and then had success in the Afro and gospel house scenes with releases via his Sfere label, an imprint he began alongside Kerri Chandler. "Sandcastles" merely marked his return to techno phase—and broadened his appeal to a new audience largely unfamiliar with his past work. But it's this past work that gives his new productions such resonance: unlike many of this house peers, Ferrer's techno experience has given him an edge that you can hear in his recent work.
"Son of Raw," (Ibadan) "Church Lady," (Defected) "Underground Is My Home," (King Street Sounds) and "Touched the Sky" (King Street Sounds) have all been huge dancefloor anthems and all show a different side of the Ferrer personality. As he's said in interviews, "It doesn't matter if it's gospel house, Brazilian house, jazz house, or whatever. As long as it's got soul and moves people, that's all that matters." Collected on his full-length The World As I See It (King Street Sounds), it's a sound that reached many different audiences. "Transitions" and "P2DaJ" were huge in the techno world, while the beautiful ode "How Do I Let Go" was a hit in the gospel house scene, the success of which has become bittersweet considering the recent passing of its vocalist, KT Brooks, one of Ferrer's favorite vocal collaborators.
Ferrer has brought that anything goes approach to his newest venture, Objektivity. The new imprint has thus far focused itself on vocals, featuring often unlikely turns from indie heroes like Ane Brun and Télépopmusik. Low slung and deep, Objektivity is a cutting-edge label in touch with its time, putting a uniquely American spin on the deep house revival that is currently making waves in Europe. And with releases from the likes of the young phenoms the Martinez Brothers and classic New York house heads like Timmy Regisford and Quentin Harris, it's obvious that Ferrer doesn't regard the label as a vanity project. Objektivity is a living, breathing thing—one that's set to drop bombs on the dancefloor for years to come.
But Ferrer isn't just limiting the explosions to his own label. His remix of the Sunburst Band's "Journey to the Sun" (Z Records) is a stunning crystallization of his stripped-down dubby, techie side, while his forthcoming remix of Loco Dice's "Breakfast At Nina's" (Desolat) confirms his connection to Europe's techno vanguard. And 2009 promises even more to come...