Published on January 30th, 2012 | by EDMinsider0
“Stick By This” Dusky Debut Album Review
If you were to create a soundtrack for your life, where would you begin? What landscape would provide the canvas? Which songs would represent the most important moments – the trying, the difficult, the eye-opening, terrifying, joyful periods of your life? Most likely, not one of these songs would be like the other, and yet they make up one identity. Dusky’s debut album, Stick By This, released on Anjunadeep in late October is an enchanting audial journey through stories of landscapes and sound-scapes, exuberant self-discovery and emotional exploration. Also known as Solarity, London-based duo Alfie Granger-Howell and Nick Harriman, present 14 eclectic, production-perfect stories, each one introducing a new moment and complimenting the last.
Stick By This begins with an ambient introduction, “Silence Never Heard,” a preview of the sweeping strings, sparkling percussion, deep bass lines and whimsical melodies that are present throughout the album. Like Spring – a rebirth, a beacon of hope, the opportunity to begin again – a calmness washes over as this pours out of the speakers.
While both the Solarity and Dusky monikers are influenced by Granger-Howell’s classical training and incorporate heavy usage of strings, Dusky’s music is rooted in deep house, but possesses eclectic sounds making for an overall worldly feel. Two examples of this are the album’s two singles, which both feature the soulful songbird – Janai – the somber piano-driven, lyrically lovesick, “Lost In You” and bouncy percussion dominated, vocally soaring “It’s Not Enough.” Janai, having met the duo in their school days, brings something entirely different to dance music. Her voice is strong, not fragile, and you won’t hear her whisperingbut still has the ability to provoke vulnerability. Janai’s distinguishable voice, clearly seeded in soul, is an ideal layer to Dusky’s already organically experimental music.
The most magical moment of brilliance on the album, however, appears just three songs in on the title track – with an entirely too short crying cello solo – which provokes only emotion found at the deepest depths of one’s soul. Contrasted with a bouncy progressive house melody, the cello is a breakthrough, a moment of clarity amidst the numerous layers of sound.
“Lost Highway,” another stand out piece on the album, is a groovy toe-tapping, dancefloor-takes-no-prisoners track with crafty vocal chops, mystical effects and hi-hats galore. Other tracks such as “Plastique,” a nod to drum and bass; “Falling,” a combination of infectious claps and dominating bass line; “Thoughts and Motions,” a deep, haunting vocal performance paired with staccato piano, taunting wood blocks and plucked strings; and “If Only,” featuring orchestral strings, strong mourning vocals and deep piano motif all come come together to unite the unique sound that is Dusky.
Much like life, this album has its highs and lows, its bouncy hi-hats and its sweeping strings. The overall album’s sound is technically progressive house, but possesses jazz, soul, dub and drum and bass elements. New sounds are introduced in each individual track, keeping the listener on his or her toes, all the while maintaining a cohesive front. It’s a testament to where dance music is headed, a genre-smashing all-encompassing sound full of experimentation.
Forget which genre you’re loyal to – from a production standpoint this is as good as it gets. The future for this duo is very bright; If this album serves as a soundtrack to Harriman and Granger-Howell’s lives thus far, then we cannot wait to see what the sophomore effort brings.
Article by: Meryl Luzzi