Devon James and Maurice Tamraz ‘Mah Hookah’ EP Review

Bringing East and West cost together once again, Devon James and Maurice Tamraz join forces to bring us the ‘Mah Hookah’ EP. Comprised of an original track and its VIP, along with three remixes, this EP runs the gamut of some popular house sub-genres. Whether it’s a tech house vibe you’re looking for with Tony Quattro or that trademarked Brooklyn Bounce from Codes, ‘Mah Hookah’ offers catchy tunes with a fresh take on a familiar style.

Just before their party in San Francisco’s DNA Lounge on September 15, we wanted to give you a rundown of what exactly you’ll hear on this EP. Devon James’ known for his work with Brooklyn’s RVDIOVCTIVE collective, and Maurice Tamraz, from the funky house duo J Paul Getto, come together090315_sanfran_rv
to bring you the future direction of house music, combined with their classic, disco-based sound. Be sure to grab your tickets to the party here and check out our track-by-track review of the EP below!

Now bear with me here. Despite being an dance music writer, I suspect that I don’t possess the requisite vocabulary to accurately describe the sounds that I’m hearing in technical terms. It will frequently feel “bass-y” and will draw comparisons to other familiar artists. Trying to accurately describe a sound can in many ways be like attempting to adequately describe the taste of a raw ingredient. It’s a sound. Work with me here.


Mah Hookah: The title track establishes the feel for the rest of the EP. Beginning with a classic house build-up, starting with synth chords and a hip hop sample that culminates into a slow wave that haunts the rest of the track. Slightly below the surface of upbeat tom tones lies a deep bass wave that weaves in and out of the four on the floor beat. In many respects, it reminds me of the sounds you could find in a particularly ambitious JAUZ track. The outro switches up the feel and puts more of a playful emphasis on the higher toms, beginning to blur the lines between the dark bass wave below the track and a playful, almost Dirtybird tom focus.

MING Remix: Intro begins in a very similar manner to the title track, but the chorus throws a distinctive poppy feel on the lead synth. It’s almost as if Disclosure had an influence on the remix, with the familiar tight synth sound that’s come to characterize what is known as popular house today. Without a doubt the track designed to amp up the room and turn up the crowd with its catchy lead.

Tony Quattro Remix: You immediately get a different vibe from the track as you recognize some throwback elements in the background. After the initial buildup, which includes some 70’s funk-sounding samples in addition to the hookah sample found throughout the tracks, you fall into a groovin’ baseline blended with tech house fundamentals. At points you hear an almost church-like organ before you once again descend into the funk that is Tony Quattro’s remix of Mah Hookah.

CODES Remix: It doesn’t take one long to recognize Codes has hand his hand in producing a track. His Brooklyn Bounce is a growing genre, no doubt in part due to his popular Codes’ House Parties throughout Brooklyn. You buildup to a drop that has a moving synth that has been reduced to a simple pulse that bounces along with the beat. As the track moves the bounce descends into a heavy, more bass-driven feel before seamlessly blending right back into the bounce. Heavy and light, bouncy and driving, this track is a diverse and energetic dance music paradox.

Mah Hookah VIP: As is usual with a VIP, many of the aspects of the track are similar with the exception of the drop. The “slightly below the surface” bass wave that the title track surfs upon makes its triumphant, and prominent, return in the VIP with much of the drop focused on driving the dark, grimy bass-line. It’s ass if the bright aspects have mutated into an almost industrial sound; like hollow metal tubes pulsating to a beat. Right at the end, the higher tom makes an appearance, bringing back the slight playful feel of the rest of the EP and reminds you to lighten up a bit.

Ultimately, the EP reflects so many trends in modern house music in an innovative, inventive, and comprehensive way. From bounce house to future house to bass house (if any of these even have an objective definition) this EP takes you on a quick tour through each with the diverse remix line up and the established production credentials that James and Tamraz bring to the table. The EP itself is necessary homework for anyone who wants to be on the forefront house music evolution.

Alex Blake

Alex Blake

Passionate audiophile, shameless gourmand, and attorney, Alex is part of the NYC team holding it down for OTB on the East Coast.
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