Marc Houle releases his new EP Gratiot via Sound of Berlin, a sensual ode to club’s moments, between experimental house and minimal techno. Marc Houle generally releases his material on his imprint Items & Things, which makes this new release on Sound of Berlin even more intriguing.
Gratiot EP isn’t a departure—this is Marc’s hommage to Berlin, its past, its future, and an ode to the electronic music capital where the Canadian techno producer is now based. Taken from the Sound of Berlin Documentary score that Marc has signed in 2018, which gathers more than 750.000 views on Youtube today , the first track “Gratiot” pictures a smoky and deep journey around the city, from a club to another, like a cruise on a layer of silk as it shifts between ethereal chords and ascending synth pad progressions, giving a pensive but ecstatic soundscape on the top of simple but effective rhythmic elements. An after-hours gear inspired by the unique night life and club scene of Berlin.
“This Old House” starts with a forthright and groovy bassline that takes the listener straight into the club. But there’s something about the track that feels reverential of the kind of atmospheric, wiggly house most closely associated with the Sound of Berlin. There’s something old-school about it, as if the layers of rhythmic percussion and hammering bassline both captivate and intimidate, a slight looseness that makes its loopy psychedelia all the more appealing.
Raised adjacent to Detroit in Windsor, Ontario, in the same fertile music community that spawned Richie Hawtin, Houle’s obsession with electronic sounds goes back to the noise of ’80s video games and vintage synthesizers. A decade-long career of seminal records on Richie Hawtin’s Minus label, as well as his own Items & Things imprint, that not only helped define the beloved minimal sound of the mid-‘00s (“On It”), but had a laugh at its expense (“Techno Vocals”), before transcending the limits of the sub-genre completely by incorporating industrial, disco and new wave influences (“Undercover”).
Not strictly bound to electronic music in the traditional sense, Houle’s work has also led to explorations into film, producing a score of Kurutta Ippeiji’s 1926 original silent film ‘A Page of Madness’ to critical acclaim. Add the equation a deeply rooted connection and affinity with the city of Detroit, widely regarding as the birthplace of Techno, and equally as close ties to Houle’s current adopted home of Berlin, exemplified through his creation and development of 2018’s ‘Sound of Berlin’ documentary soundtrack, and it’s no wonder Houle’s records have found their way into the crates of DJs far-flung from his typical list of peers.