Robert Strauss Mr. Feelings

Every now and then a club record comes along that channels the past so well you almost have to wonder whether all of the many changes in dance music over the past two decades have really amounted to anything. With Mr. Feelings, multi-instrumentalist, producer and part-time Toronto resident Robert Strauss reaches back to the groove-heavy, synth-soaked sounds of classic house, old school and disco, with touches of hip-hop thrown in, for a cover-to-cover gem of a record destined to solidify his already respectable international renown. Brassmunk’s Richie Henessey delivers authentic retro-soul vocals over ricocheting synth drums and warbly ’80s keyboard funk on party opener "Music Is My Life,” while former Slum Village affiliate Baatin drops some of his best vocal work to date atop the lush, multilayered, three a.m. vibe of "Girl.” The rest of the record bounces around from current day soulful house floor-fillers ("Close Your Eyes”) to more progressive offerings ("Ass Blasters”) before coming to rest rather curiously with the stunning horn and string suite "Song For Vanja,” a perfect (though unconventional) ending to this very creative piece of business. (BBE)