Building on a prolific year after his debut album Kingdoms came out last year, London producer Mike Greene, a.k.a Fort Romeau, released another Chicago house single earlier this summer. While certainly not overly ambitious in its efforts to expose new landscapes in the current house renaissance, the two track EP provides us with a lesson in the subtle varieties of downtempo house. In short, Jetee/Desire is textbook house, carefully refined for the cultured purist (or less euphemistically, the elitist techno snob).
The A-side of the single, "Jetee," which means jetty in French and bears the same title as an underground science fiction featurette, provides a stark minimal baseline at the outset skipping along like some walk in the park on a Sunday afternoon. It evolves slowly into a whirling pattern of synths which proliferate, then soften and focus into billowing rays of diverging energy at the breakdown. Here, about four minutes into it, is where the interesting part happens: a breakdown which instead of building momentum into something larger, louder, and heavier (as is the common paradigm) chooses to meditate on a soft piano chord and ambient radiations, melting the track into a sort of wistful and profound slumber for the remainder of the 6:49 it lasts. There is a reticence in Fort Romeau's music which is perfectly evidenced by this example: a desire, it would appear, to escape the energetic illumination of the dance floor, and instead, retreat into an introspective cocoon.
The B-side, "Desire," buildings more on the latter style of "Jetee," developing its themes of deep intra-psychological immersion, as opposed to extroverted vision. Slow waves of a deep Chicago synth continue to manifest its waves on top of high-hats and a relatively ponderous BPM here, making this track somewhat perfect for relaxation or deep inner inquiry. This represents classic downtempo house that has the effect of restoring mental equilibrium, and while there's nothing identifiably wrong with it, we wouldn't place it in the category of living outside the status quo.
Needless to say, this isn't Fort Romeau's best work. In his debut album, Greene challenged the fundamentals of house more in songs, like "One Night" and "Some of Us Want for Nothing," which provided slightly off-key African drums that still managed to captivate. Jetee/Desire provides a glimpse into a similar window, but the picture we see is slightly less intriguing than before.