Bubblin' Up: Disclosure
- Words: Glenn Jackson
- Photo: Michaela Letang
The rise of London duo Disclosure is the kind of story that makes music journalists salivate. First off, its two producers are brothers—a relationship which has become increasingly uncommon in the current musical landscape—and, to sweeten the deal, the siblings dropped their first single at the astounding ages of 16 and 18. That was a little less than two years ago, and, since then, Disclosure's productions, which began as deft pieces of post-dubstep admiration, have blossomed into increasingly robust slices of soul-laden bass music, proving that the artists' relatively young age is merely a footnote in an impressive trajectory that has ushered in a string of singles, a free EP, and a consistent run of quality remixes.
"We mixed our first single in the car," says Guy Lawrence (the oldest of the brothers, now 20) in reference to Disclosure's first official release, "Offline Dexterity" b/w "Streetlight Chronicle," which came out via !K7's Moshi Moshi sublabel in the fall of 2010. The songs featured on the single were in fact the first tunes the brothers had crafted together, finding a shared inspiration from the wave of post-dubstep sounds that were defining the London scene at the time. Unsurprisingly, they found particularly potent common ground—as most producers do—in their mutual admiration for Burial's seminal LPs, which had been released a few years earlier. "We just made that first single for a laugh and put it on MySpace," explains younger brother Howard, now 17. "It got loads of attention and we just realized we should make some more music together."
Guy and Howard's musical interest didn't begin with the inception of Disclosure, though. They come from a musical family of sorts—their dad had a career in music once upon a time (even landing a contract with CBS' now-defunct record label arm)—and both explored a range of music before sitting down to produce, with the older Lawrence taking a liking to hip-hop early on, citing DJ Premier and J. Dilla as influences, while his younger counterpart took more of an interest in soul music and R&B. But the pair points out that Disclosure was the first "serious" project either one had taken on, something that came about as Guy had begun attending college, giving him an opportunity to take in even more of the London bass scene.
Reappearing in the spring of 2011, Disclosure really began to turn heads with its second single, a 7" for the indie-minded Transparent label. Both "Carnival" and "I Love... That You Know" continued to find the duo soaking up and reinterpreting the surrounding UK scene, but with a stronger sense of personality imbued into the warm chords and spiraling percussion. The aptly named a-side is a clear nod to the club, employing a bouncing kick, heavy snare, and upbeat clap for the dancefloor, while the buzzing chords, slippery bassline, and cascading melodies proved pleasantly able of sticking in one's head long after the first listen. The b-side toned things down a bit, taking cues from Mount Kimbie and the like, resulting in a swimming head-nodder. Between the steady half-time swing, the pair layered sequences of tuned percussion and arped melodies, all of which seemed to serve the coy vocal re-pitching, arranged in such a way that "I Love... That You Know" almost took the form of a genuine pop song, with the faint outlines of verse and chorus sections visible amongst the beat.
"I Love... That You Know"
From there, it seems each ensuing production has brought the duo closer to the dancefloor, particularly the grey area where house, garage, and bass share the same sonic space. Disclosure's free EP (which originally dropped in July of last year, but is still available here) added a trio of propulsive, soul-tinged hybrids to the duo's Transparent single, in particular the frantically funky "Blue You." Given their age, it would be impossible for the brothers to consider themselves the most knowledgeable garage and house aficionados, a fact they acknowledge outright, "Obviously, we're quite young, so when garage and house were going on, we were 10 and 13. We missed all that." Guy continues to explain, "We're definitely just going back in time with our music collection now. The stuff we play out is getting older and older and we're just going back and trying to understand where it all came from."
Now, as a continued love for the sounds of the UK's not-so-distant underground is joined by a growing affinity for Chicago's and Detroit's house and techno heydays, Disclosure seems able to effortlessly spin this too into its tracks. These types of sounds first appeared on impressive remixes for the likes of Jack Dixon and Emelí Sande, and, most recently, on the "Tenderly" b/w "Flow" single, another 7" vinyl release which appeared on the UK-based Make Mine label last month. The single is unquestionably Disclosure's strongest release to date—the production is crisper than ever, and the songs float effortlessly as they weave together sparkling synths and rich chords with what has become almost a trademark knack for gooey, gliding basslines. Again, vocal samples are chopped and rearranged into quasi-lyrical form, serving as the guiding points to the songs' multiple movements. Both "Tenderly" and "Flow" successfully straddle the sometimes treacherous line between club music and pop sensibilities with a perspective that seems somewhat beyond its makers' years.
Moving forward, the brothers appear to have their short-term trajectory pretty well mapped out, with a four-track EP for the Greco Roman imprint dropping in the coming months and looser plans to release another EP before the year's end. Recently finishing up the mixes for the next record, Guy and Howard say that the EP will continue along the path they've been on for the last two years, with them trying their hand at the next logical progression in their joint production career: introducing proper vocal contributors into the fold. Fortunately, the duo's recent remix of burgeoning London popstress Jesse Ware provides a solid clue as to what Disclosure's next phase just might sound like. If the releases to come are anywhere near as infectiously displayed and silky smooth as that rework, we're likely to continue taking notice.
Jessie Ware "Running (Disclosure Remix)"
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