REVIEW Fort Romeau ‘Fantasia’ [Permanent Vacation]

Late last month DJ/Producer Fort Romeau revealed the Fantasia three-tracker: a pitched-down, trance-inspired EP, doused with a fresh twist of House. Fort Romeau /r.uh.m.oh/ has toured clubs around the globe, including Panorama Bar, Good Room, and Sub Club. With two superb albums on Ghostly International and 100%% Silk, Fort Romeau has also released on celebrated labels such as Correspondant and Live At Robert Johnson. Fantasia is welcomed on Permanent Vacation for a new dose of a rave wave. Harnessing the market of split EPs, Michael Greene — under the Fort Romeau alias — is the label founder of Cin Cin with Ali. Although Trance gingerly progresses, the genre is deeply rooted in dance music, pulling influences from JMJ and Kraftwerk. Creating space between tracks, Greene’s emphasis on intros and outros roll the flow throughout the EP. Fort Romeau’s sampling edge pieces together idiosyncratic tiles into a collage of soundscapes.

Standing as strong as any leader, Fantasia is the first and fastest track to get down to business in a no-frills manner. Effectively persistent and diverse, this Indie-Dance inspired track blends Fort Romeau’s signature into an evolving sound (trans)figuration. The synth lines start floating overhead and slightly rise in intensity over time. To match, a solid snare drum relentlessly batters from bottom to top and slowly the frequencies begin to stand closer together. Percussion drives the Trance-melody while groggy synths drip over the remaining elements. Paving the way for the next direction, the watery components are shed, and the ecstatic melody raises spirits in a scoring fashion. The transition at 4:30 seconds halts the hectic activity and serves as a relief from the ray-gun’s fire show. Releasing the pressure of gravity, the track readjusts its reference point. To end at 5:30 seconds, Fort Romeau throws a final push, down into a free-falling equivalence. 

Bumping to the front of the line, Neuromance bobs and weaves around the tracks highs and lows. Above the bassline, sandy shakers increase in their textural rigidity to build tension over time. Around one minute, the melodious keys loop in their mesmerizing sample. Spontaneously, the synths are integrated with a cabasa-bassline entrainment — marking a fine way to introduce the Acid-House infusion at 3:30 seconds. The open hi-hats initiate a tasteful chord progression; thus, merging the club-focused/Trance-inspired theme into his discography. About a minute later the melody, as smooth as a stream, flows through a clean groove – bathing body and mind in an acquiescent affair. After the rendezvous is exhausted, the juicy keys slowly fade into the soothing rhythm. The bassline’s (life support) beeper persists until the kick comes back in at 6:25. Bodzin-esque arpeggiated chords powerfully re-invite the other elements for one final romance. 

The final track is a pitched-down version of the 90’s trance anthem Annadin. Resounding a knocking bassline and sensual rattles, the track quickly escalates when the cymbals and keys make themselves known. Setting the stage for a clubby sequence, retro keys dance around the other elements — occasionally coming in for a solo here and there. The synths robustly pair with the Trance-theme song; subsequently, at 3:45 the track runs into a full Tiga styled electro jive. Tenacious hi-hats and electrifying keys seamlessly come together while the rest of the elements phase in and out. In the final minutes, the bassline drives everything home and the keys explode at 5:35 to spark a full unison. Unwinding down, Fort Romeau shows that a Trance-anthem could be successfully remixed.

With the harmonious balance as a DJ and producer, the dual skill set routines a wholesome product. Fort Romeau’s trusted position behind the booth is as reliable as his unfolding place in the studio. The dynamism between the fast-paced bassline and high pitched jingles are taken from Trance’s ebb and flow. Each track stands as its individual and collective anecdote. An aficionado of both DJing and production is a rare find; the liminal space he occupies counterbalances one another to generate a sound that is as adapting as Mike Greene himself.

Fort Romeau’s Fantasia EP was released on Permanent Vacation on April 24, 2020.

Review by Isabella Gadinis