A house DJ calling himself DJ Deep breeds as many expectations as, say, a band named Bludgeoning Death Metal or a hip-hopper named MC Gangsta Rap. And sure enough, Parisian Cyril Etienne, aka DJ Deep, covers his terrain with aplomb on his debut mix-CD for Astralwerks. It doesn't mean, for instance, that he's particularly groundbreaking -- for househeads, "deep" frequently means rooted in the music's verities, in the Latin percussion and soulful strings of late underground disco. But chances are that innovation would just get in the way of DJ Deep's carefully wrought organicism. Not for nothing does this CD's mission statement -- KCYC's "I'm Not Dreaming (Media Mix)" -- begins with a shouting female gospel vocal, syncopated handclaps and stentorian church organ, before the beats come in. It's the dance-music equivalent of roots rockers covering the Stones, of Counting Crows referencing Dylan's "Mr. Jones."
At his best, Deep manages to keep the tried-and-true from getting tired. Logic's "The Warning," from 1990, still sounds fresh, enveloping spare synth-string arpeggios and fluid organ riffs in its outer-space swing. The pumping, hi-hat heavy drums and buoyant bass activity of Kimra Lovelace's Lil Louis-produced "Misery" subtly shift the set's relaxed groove into full gear. It's hardly perfect -- the CD's languid old-school fetishism does simmer itself into something of a rut over 79 minutes. But even if he sometimes lacks in, um, depth, Deep still provides a smart demonstration of his substyle.