Review: Having spent 2019 flitting between Chiwax, Super Rhythm Trax and the Nite Owl Diner labels, San Francisco-based rave revivalist and party-focused musical fusionist Chrissy kick starts 2020 by making his bow on Dusky's 17 Steps label. He's in predictably formidable form, too, with opener "In Paradise" delivering a near perfect fusion of energetic, hardcore style breakbeats, booming Jungle-esque sub-bass, swirling synth chords and the kind of wavy female vocal samples that set pulses racing at intoxicated outdoor raves. Ghere's naturally plenty to set the pulse racing elsewhere across the EP too, from the jacking cheeriness of "New Atlantis" and the stomping ghetto-tech rush of "New Instruments", to the deep breakbeat hardcore warmth of "Composition for Sampler, Flexatone & Vibraslap".
Review: 2018 was a relatively quiet year for Dusky aka Alfie Granger-Howell and Nick Harriman, but the pair follow their recent Aset Forever record with these killer remixes. Issued on their own 17 Steps label, in its original format, "Amongst The Gods" featured raw break beats, euphoric synths and angelic vocals. For this remix package however, Brame & Hamo turn it into a more raw-sounding affair, full of splurging low end and menacing stabs. There's no room for subtlety either on Kettama's version of "Staunch"; pounding kicks support visceral riffs and the kind of swaggering, menacing roof that will leave the faint-hearted traumatised.
Review: Third Son aka Joseph Price's catalogue reads like a who's who of minimal labels, with Eps on Traum, Upon You and Stil Vor Talent. As the title track on his latest release demonstrates, he has built up this reputation thanks to his unusual musical approach. Sitting somewhere between minimal, electro and techno, its splurging bass and weird background sounds mean it is an idiosyncratic affair. In a similar manner, both "Bloodsport" and "I Hear Laurel" are led by off beats and steely percussive bursts, before giving way to brooding bass lines, acidic licks and cavernous break downs. Last but not least is "Ambiturner" a wildly funky stepper, full of deft filters and drops and centred on a gurgling, 303 infested bass.
Review: Lo Shea, feted for his Hope Works party and label, is the latest artist to appear on Dusky's label. Favouring a tough but funky techno sound, this four-tracker is sure to hit the right note with DJs who prefer a smarter approach to big room grooves. The title track is a case in point, with Lo Shea dropping a tranced out build over a tough, pumping rhythm. On "Ornithurae", he slows the tempo down but keeps the intensity levels up thanks to a gut-busting, pummelling bass. Recruiting NK to deliver "Higher", the Sheffield producer uses doubled up claps, firing hats and pumping tones as a backdrop for a gloriously soulful vocal mantra about being lifted higher. Completing this exemplary EP is Peder Mannerfelt's rave-influenced, visceral take on "Iterations".
Review: Since this EP dropped on vinyl earlier in the year, the sizeable title track has become one of the most ubiquitous peak-time anthems around. That's not meant as a criticism; few do rush-inducing musical moments quite like Dusky, and "Square Miso" is one of their most euphoric productions to date. It's something of a retro-futurist treat, with colossal piano riffs and dewy-eyed vocal samples riding thunderous drums and a booming, mind-altering bassline. For extra spine-tingling pleasure, check out the beat-free "Reprise" version, which wisely emphasizes the "Strings of Life" style pianos and synthesized strings, and the warehouse-friendly, Inner City style throb of "LF10".
Review: Following up the Cold Heart EP by label bosses Dusky, 17 Steps present a new one by Kiwi: the London producer's debut on the label. Having recently released on labels such as Futureboogie, Correspondant and Optimo Music, his distinctive sound is a mix of Italo, techno and electro. The uplifting epic "Marmora's Theme" is powered by a razor sharp arpeggio and balanced out by those hands in the air style piano loops. We were about to draw comparisons to scene heroes Tuff City Kids, but whaddya know: they're up next on the remix! They work their magic as always with a retro flavoured piece of dancefloor drama: they found it fitting to throw in a gnarly Reese bassline too. Epic!
Review: Dusky has certainly made the most of running the 17 Steps label. Astonishingly, this is the duo's 16th release on the imprint since it launched back in 2014. As usual, there's plenty to admire across the four-track EP, starting with the poignant chord progressions, rubbery synth-bass, "Show Me Love" organ stabs and trippy late night atmospherics of "Cold Heart". Their penchant for hustling low-end and grandiose synthesizer flourishes is explored further on "Psychic Life Coach", while the superb "Bowed" sees them doffing a cap to both John Carpenter and Patrick Cowley. For those seeking fluttering riffs, heavy analogue bass and breezy, summery vibes, closer "Balfour Betty" should be essential listening.
Review: Bumpin' and jackin' house business for unashamed retroverts and by some of the current best of the scene. B.K.R is the techno project of Simon Baker, presenting four dancefloor fillers here on Dusky's 17 Steps. The first track in collaboration with Hot Creations boss Jamie Jones entitled "Bubble & Squeak". Baker then flies solo for the rest of the EP; the man throwing down the soulful and driving tech house of "Fly", the rather Cajmere sounding percolator jack of "Dis" (which is as raw and stripped back as we like it!) and then finally "Das" which not only showcases this Leeds legend's use of vocabulary: but also his dexterity in the studio: this jam joins all the dots between the previous tracks on this slinky, bassline driven cut that is geared for some intense strobing moments.
Review: Veteran DnB producer dBridge recently raised eyebrows and ears with a string of dark, deep and sexy house cuts under the newly assumed alias, Velvit. This new direction has led to a new EP for 17 Steps dubbed the Be So Cruel EP. As good as the other stuff was, this new EP is next level stuff - the title track being nearly seven minutes of whack-thump drums, hoover bass and catchy soulful vocals. "No Excuses" sprinkles some vinyl crackles on some deeply warped tropical house and "South Of Your Soul" is an intoxicatingly sleazy after hours grind.
Review: Issued on Dusky's new label, Leon Vynehall collaborator Christian Piers serves up three futuristic house cuts. "Offf" is the most effective dance floor track, based on a succession of dense, filtered drum loops that roll and shuffle relentlessly to an inevitable climax. "Onn" follows a similar approach, albeit with a dubbier influence, as doubled up claps and a driving rhythm provide the backing for a vocal sample that's tucked away deep in the arrangement. Finally, there's the title track, which operates to a similar approach but which sees Piers add in some bleepy acid to the system-levelling bass and steely drums.
Review: Having built an impressive reputation via releases on Aus Music and Naked Naked, British house duo Dusky have decided to launch their own label, 17 Steps. This first release - from the duo themselves, naturally - suggests the label could be a force to be reckoned with in coming years. There's a thrillingly saucer-eyed feel about "Love Taking Over", which peppers a robust, sub-heavy groove with drifting alien synths, wonky pads and choice vocal samples. "Inta" is more obviously accessible, with classic house pianos and spoken vocal stabs providing the track with bags of energy. "Expectations" sees the duo return to familiar influences, with acid bass and attractive hooks riding a bustling, US garage-influenced groove.