Dusky: Putting Musicality Back Into the Club Track
Since quietly releasing their debut album last year, UK production duo Dusky have gone on to become one of the most acclaimed underground and alternative new acts of the moment. On that album, Stick By This, the duo (Alfie Granger-Howell and Nick Harriman) displayed an incredibly sharp ear for melody and musicality, set against a progressive house backdrop.
Dusky was, in fact, born to cater for the expanding range of sounds that Granger-Howell and Harriman found themselves creating, which they felt were significantly different from that of their former house-oriented project, Solarity. But this transition was “a very organic process,” says Granger-Howell. “We only set up the Dusky name as we found ourselves working on new tracks that were so different to stuff we’d done before that we felt we needed a new alias. The Dusky sound differs in terms of the palate of sounds we use, and there are different influences too: classic deep house, techno, and UK garage are much more of an inspiration on the Dusky stuff than our previous material.”
The deep house and techno influences can be heard loud and clear on Stick With This, but in recent months Dusky have delved into the UK garage and bass elements that their debut album hinted at, finding a darker, clubbier sound. Their recent Flo Jam EP, for example, found them nailing a hypnotic, heady groove-tech vibe in the title track and riding a classic UK garage wave in “Every Day.” The EP was met with huge critical acclaim and DJ support, providing some of the summer’s most-played alternative tracks.
While the duo claim that this darker direction is more the result of experimenting with new sounds than a conscious desire to change direction, there was a clear shift towards more club-driven tracks as a counterpoint to the warm, clean melodies of the album. “The album was as much intended for home or iPod listening as it was for the club. Our most recent singles have been unashamedly geared to the dance floor,” says Harriman.
This concentration on club sounds will continue for a while longer, say the duo, with another pair of rock-solid tracks (“Calling Me” and “Muriel”) about to come out on a new label from dubstep heavyweight Loefah, showing yet again the enticing darker side of Dusky.
But this isn’t to say that Dusky’s focus on the musical and melodic side of things has been lost in the process – far from it, as this side of the duo’s musical approach seems to shine through in all their releases, whether crafting twisted dance floor fodder or soulful, fluid house cuts. “Musicality is hugely important to us and we strive to bring that out in our tracks where we can,” confirms Granger-Howell. “I wouldn’t go so far to say that it’s a lost art, but well-crafted melodic elements are sometimes hard to come by in dance music.”
Thankfully, Dusky do a pretty superb job of supplying them, and it’s impossible not to feel that there’s still a huge amount to come from the duo.
“Calling Me” / “Muriel” is out in November on School Records. Dusky remixes of Cloud 9’s house classic “Do You Want Me Baby” and Justin Martin’s “Don’t Go” are out now.
Animated GIF created by Christian J Petersen