Deep house is a genre that is easy to get wrong at the best of times; the line between hypnotic and tepid is fine and occasionally divisive. This begs the question–why on earth would anyone ever attempt to release a 19-track deep house LP that clocks in at well over an hour long? Elusive Swiss producer Agnès decided to do just that on his sophomore album One Million Horses, and against all the odds has somehow managed to avoid every pitfall. Rather than just releasing a collection of equally lengthy house tracks, he uses the brief, lower-key moments to emphasise the most engrossing, numerous interludes and tiny fragments of disparate ideas. ensuring that the real highlights such as Uzunyayla (Hallucinatory Narcosis), Brumby (Low Pembina) and Kaimanawa truly shine.
Agnès, operating here under his alter-ego Cavalier, resides high in the Swiss Alps, a far cry from the urban sprawl one normally associates with house music. His style of production would appear to contrast oddly with his location; the mind immediately jumps to an image of a man recording the organic tones around him, constructing beats from the found sounds of the natural world in which he is firmly ensconced. Instead, Agnès is a meticulously technical musician, the lengthy periods between his releases explained by his need to individually program every single drum beat and every undulating synth. He combines this intense attention to detail with a deep understanding of how people consume different types of music.
One Million Horses is not an album of seven-minute deep house grooves; it’s a collection of painstakingly wrought ideas that each have their own distinct purpose. The record’s strongest points are indeed the longer tracks where Agnès has the time to really flesh out a theme, but these moments wouldn’t be as strong without the sea of ideas they swim in. The aforementioned and oddly titled Brumby (Low Pembina) is energetic and gorgeously produced, but what sets it apart from other energetic and gorgeously produced house tracks is Percheron, just over a minute of glossy chords and bubbling movement that serves as an invigorating introduction. Bear this in mind while listening to the tracks in this post; One Million Horses is one of those rare deep house albums where real care has gone into the structure. This is definitely a release that deserves to be listened to start to finish.