“In the 90s … house music 12″s were generally populated by an original vocal mix, a radio edit, a club edit and the all-crucial ‘dub’ (or vox-less) mix. We launch our house music 10″ series by cutting out the dodgy vocal mixes and heading straight for the dub…”
So read the press release for the opening release of Don’t Be Afraid’s DBA Dubs series last year, the sultry and intoxicating “Profumo“ from Claws For?. Semtek has seen fit to expand beyond the admittedly stellar house and techno his label has been putting out of late with a series of side-projects that range from tongue in cheek to deadly serious, without ever dropping in quality. First came Spargel Trax, a series inspired by the beginnings of asparagus season, then came DBA Dubs. Most recently we had Disco Nihilist’s “Journey to the End of the Night”, the inaugural 12″ on DBA Special Editions, a label for club-only cuts. With barely a moment to breathe, they’ve got another dub on the way. This one comes from Kelpe, whose impressive discography spans a wide breadth of electronic music, largely focusing on vibrant yet dubby hip-hop-flavoured beat music. His dub, however, moves towards a different mode entirely, tackling the muted vibes of early mornings in smoky after-hours clubs. “Monte Verità” opens unobtrusively, with simple percussion punctuated by the occasionally crash of kit. Shimmering synths, dark organs and rattling toms evoke heads-down dancing, as punters shrug off their fellow clubbers and focus on their own internal rhythm, all human contact now irrelevant. The track dies off amid squawking effects that sound like scratched records at the end of the world, rubato percussion and arpeggiated strings that could be fed through a rusty old cassette player. It’s got a glorious quality to it, sounding for all the world like the most beautiful sunrise you’ve ever seen.
Detroit native Kevin Reynolds isn’t what you might call prolific, with a handful of releases and remixes to his name, but his work is always imbued with a sense of beauty and direction. See 2011’s “Liaisons”, included in Don’t Be Afraid boss Semtek’s recent mix for “DJ” magazine, for example. Crashing percussion that meets with gorgeous harp, it’s a sumptuous pairing of disparate sounds. His ‘Truth’ mix of “Monte Verità” is similarly impressive. Speeding things up slightly, and throwing those gurgling sounds at the front of the track, it’s already a direct flip on the original. He uses those light synths before cutting them out in favour of an ongoing, monotonous tone that pitches the track squarely at peak-time territory. Then a menacing, robotic phrase kicks in, swirling and modulating, given the occasional embellishment before seemingly stretching out the track to nothingness. He then returns to a theme modelled on the original’s cascading accompaniment, adding in his own gated bleeps, and coupled with tougher kicks and on-beat claps, never letting you get comfortable with a simple groove. That said, it’s a bright ending to what could have been a singularly moody track. It’s a worthy addition to his catalogue, and a definite winner for DBA Dubs.
Stream: Kelpe – Monte Verità (DBA Dubs)
Kelpe – Monte Verità is out now on DBA Dubs. Buy here.