Album Reviews

Various – Darkroom Dubs (Vol 1)

(Darkroom Dubs) UK release date: 24 October 2005

Darkroom Dubs is a new label in the Soma family, and it looks as if the Glaswegians are going to invest just as much time and care in its running as they do the mothership. In choosing Silicone Soul to mix the first long player they’ve placed a safe bet on the outcome being high on quality, low on filler.

And so it proves, as the duo deliver with the minimum of fuss, a solid house set that if at times is unspectacular, does the job with plenty to spare.

Look beneath the surface and a fair few of the boys’ own productions surface, whether in remixes of Hidden Fortress and Swimming Pool Sounds, or in their own alias as Astrocats, providing the discofied climax to the set.

A confident start from The Spirals sets the tempo and the feel, the mix levelling our into effortlessly mixed house, a strong bassline often the essential element but with enough going on up top to keep the music moving forward – a short stab on a trumpet here, a tidy flute solo there. All of which takes place over a full bodied beat typical of the duo.

After some warm, nocturnal house the drums become noticeably heavier, the walls close in and the set starts to point toward the finish, which is where the glitterball begins to make itself known, the final track from Will Dawson staying just the right side of the cheese grater.

This is one of those mixes where it’s difficult to pick out a single track, as the whole is much more than the sum of the components. It achieves its goal in the use of subtle melodic hooks, smoky treble lines, warm bass sounds that support insistent riffs, and above all, that beat.

You’d have thought by now that four to the floor house would be long dead, consumed by a lack of inventiveness and a lack of willingness to move on from a tried and tested formula. For sure it went through a tough time a couple of years back, but compilations such as Darkroom Dubs do enough to suggest there’s still plenty of quality out there. More than that, it keeps the feet tapping throughout, surely a prerequisite of any mix album, so on that basis it can be judged an unqualified success, a CD suitable for starting a night out with, orsoundtracking a smoky evening in.

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