Originally released in 1998, Icy Lake is one of only three recordings by Dat Oven, a NYC-based house duo. Championed by house legend Junior Vasquez and rediscovered on Youtube by Total Freedom, the song was embraced by the Night Slugs and Fade to Mind family. A forgotten classic of the weird school, the crew heard a reverse-time capsure in Icy Lake, a message to from an Eski future to the Tribal House scene of 90s NYC.
After making contact with Dat Oven’s Jeffery Gratton, L-Vis 1990 was inspired to create a series of remixes, resulting in this full reissue with additional mixes by DJ Rashad & NA (Teklife / Nguzunguzu) and Total Freedom. Icy Lake is the first in a series of collaborative releases from Night Slugs and Fade to Mind.
Icy Lake is, in Jeffery Gratton’s words, “extremely controversial club,” the result of “a decadent decade of partying.” The iconic vocal sample was a voicemail left for Gratton by a friend on Christmas Eve, a sardonic reference to a terrible encounter with a soon to be ex-wife and her family. Based on their dark sense of shared humor, the voicemail’s morbid joke of ending it all in a nearby lake took on new life in the studio. Gratton and production partner Shunji Moriwaki created a devastated final note, accentuating the desperate voice with the stuttering of a dead connection. Renowned DJ Junior Vasquez was given an early pressing, rinsing it exclusively at iconic nightclub Palladium in the final summer before it’s closing in 1997. Soon after the official release in 1998, Gratton and Moriwaki left the music industry and went their separate ways.
Total Freedom encountered Icy Lake in a video of a night at Palladium, immediately sensing the new life it could achieve on today’s dancefloors. L-Vis 1990 tracked Gratton down, also via Youtube, and brought him into the studio for a remastering of the Original Arena Mix. “There is no other track like it. The extended intro, the ominous drone and the haunting vocal – it uses a different logic than most club music.” says L-Vis 1990. The track was motivation and connection, a rare bridge between old and new club culture. “I was blown away by Icy Lake the first time Total Freedom played it for me, the track plays out like a film” says NA of Nguzunguzu.
Alongside the Original Arena Mix, are two takes from L-Vis 1990: the minimal, grime tinged Remix and the shuffling industrial slam of the Fire Alarm Remix. The Rashad & NA Remix flips the up to 160 bpm, matching the signature atmosphere of the original track with the frenetic pace of footwork. Finally, Total Freedom summons a club demon, accentuating the already tense atmosphere with moans from the abyss.