Roger Sanchez : First Contact

House god releases 'proper' (in all senses) debut album

It’s aptly titled. The name Roger Sanchez has been omnipresent in house for a decade but it’s only with ‘First Contact’ that he’s emerged from behind decks, pseudonyms, remix projects and New York superstar DJ myth with music that’s propelled him into Popworld and onto MTV. He may have claimed in these pages a couple of weeks back that “I don’t think the world was exactly waiting for a Roger Sanchez album”, but after ‘Another Chance’ there’s no turning back. The S-Man has landed and he’s walking among us with a brace of awesome disco-house soon-to-be classics.

After the disappointment of Basement Jaxx’s ‘Rooty’, it’s pretty heady to hear a house record that flows so consistently, that brings together a bunch of essentially autonomous, seemingly frivolous anthems and creates something so complete. Nothing as arch or contrived as a concept album, ‘First Contact’ is nonetheless – like Romanthony’s ‘R Hide In Plain Site’, or Erick Morillo’s recent ‘Subliminal Sessions’ – conceptual in spirit. It’s a celebration of the filter-disco 4/4 funk that stretches back though Static Revenger, Spiller, Braxe’n’Bangalter and Paul Johnson, to DJ Sneak (the pioneering producer with whom Sanchez teamed up as S-Men).

As the long-play zenith of that sound, ‘First Contact’ is doing nothing new. As ‘Another Chance’ proved, Sanchez’s style is lush, soulful, but hardly innovative. Nonetheless, it also shows that if Sanchez hit a particular Ibiza-kissed clubfloor G-spot with that single, he can do it again and again. ‘You Can’t Change Me’ and ‘I Never Knew’ in particular are primed for podium status, the latter a gem of Prince-goes-disco sweetness riding on strings that could be ripped from ‘Parade’.

There are diversions from this 4/4 furrow, notably opener ‘Computabank’ with its hypnotic electro clattering and the inevitable Nu Yorican Latino flourishes of ‘The Partee’. But for the most part we’re in Strictly Rhythm territory, with only the formless ‘Ventura’ and the sickly Sharleen Spiteri collaboration ‘Nothing 2 Prove’ allowing the pace to flag.

Maybe you weren’t waiting for this, then. But when the sun comes out and you stick ‘First Contact’ on, you’re gonna wonder how you lived without it.

Christian Ward