Given where we are at the moment with house, it can be a little bit of a subversive rush to hear straight up club ready music that doesn’t dally with over long with the frayed aesthetics that are currently so fashionable, or tries to cater to the modernist crews so in thrall to how the sound works. House was always about movement – within the music itself, the dancers on the floor, and it’s progress as an art form that outgrew its heritage – and it was this sense of movement that allowed the genre to define itself in the face of its electronic cousins.
Doc Daneeka’s take on this sense of movement has long owed much to a vision of house that grew to maturity on these islands instead of the midwest. Yes, there is much to his music that echoes Chicago or New York, but British house has often been as much a testament to the curious mix of influences that are found here rather than just the States. Garage, UK bass, the airy tones of the old school and perhaps a touch of Top 40 nous have all been mixed together into a sound where a keen melodic sense has been married to an innate understanding of where subtlety and directness should come together and, just as importantly, diverge. It has been a hallmark of his more recent material, the two Numbers releases in particular, and one that has seen his records land in the bags of as many big time DJs as those of the underground.
Daneeka returns with a release on his own Ten Thousand Yen label, and has pulled in one of 2014s men of the moment, Seven Davis Junior, to provide vocals on a pair of tracks. Davis Junior has had an interesting arrival onto the scene over the last year, emerging from the shadows as a techni-coloured lizard kings with his own finely honed blend of house, soul and funk that has added a flash of brightness to a sometimes monotone underground scene. It’s a good match up, in fact. But more of that later.
The two instrumental tracks are tasteful movers. Together rides its pulse of glittery disco-light to a fairly obvious conclusion. Not that it is any less fun. It’s a warm, peak time groove that should set more than a few floors on fire. GHOSTtEXT is a more curious affair. Described elsewhere as acid it rumbles into existence beneath a plinking, top-end skimming piano riff that troubles it like an over enthusiastic sprite, coaxing the rhythm into rising to the challenge. The drums themselves – a scatter of snares and a fat old kick – capture something of the feel of Plastikman’s Spastik reworked into a liquid bounce, letting a finely saturated acid line free rein to usher in a quiet euphoria. It never quite seems entirely certain of whether it wants to remain true to its obviously garage routes or go the whole way into messy lysergic oblivion and makes do, instead, with being a cheeky skank.
The two vocal cuts are a different breed altogether. I Promise, slow burning, is entirely given over to Davis Junior’s genuinely soulful voice, the music almost incidental. Soft chordal stabs, finger clicks and distant pads provide the backdrop to his smokey yet electric delivery. It hangs in the ether, sensuous and almost intangible, twisting and riding on a wave of starlight.
But it’s on What’s It Gonna Be that everything comes together. Recalling truly classic Chicago jams within its tumbling rhythms and delicate, melodic synthwork, Daneeka coaxes out a huge performance from his partner in crime and delivers a tune that will sound every bit as vital in a jacking, sweat-pit basement club as it will on the Essential Mix. Such crossovers are a rarity nowadays. Usually they top load for one scene and nod a head at the other. The beauty of this is the way it simply pushes its sultry energy to the fore, without caring for who will claim it as their own. A huge, huge tune, not far off the best thing either artists has done, and destined to light the path for a long time to come.