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  • Filed under: Review
  • 07/15/2013

Debukas "Reach Out Feel"

These days, it's commonplace for even the most interesting electronic acts to have relatively pedestrian resumes, but Debukas' bio is much richer than one might expect. Yes, he spent a number of years as part of Scottish indie band Bis—a group that was actually signed to the Beastie Boys' Grand Royal label—but the artist otherwise known as John Clark also assisted Mylo with Destroy Rock & Roll, had a hand in remixing Justin Timberlake and Gossip, and recorded tracks for Franz Ferdinand. Now on his third release as Debukas for the 2020 Vision label, Clark is siphoning these myriad experiences into a neat package of effective house cuts.

"Reach Out Feel" maintains the underground house proclivities that have garnered his previous Debukas releases so much praise. But here, Clark is also highlighting a pop prowess that he's typically only hinted at, as densely layered percussion gives way to a bulbous analog bass riff and keyboard melodies plucked from late-'80s electro, with vocals to match. Listening to the track, it becomes clear why Debukas is often compared to acts like Hot Chip.

"Love Plant" strikes a middle ground between Clark's indie-dance associations and Midwestern influences. Equal parts Detroit funk, Chicago deep, and London 2-step soul, the track is propelled by a cool massage of rippling chords and precision-sliced vocal coloring. There's still a touch of leftfield pop, but this particular cut won't inspire any unbridled sing-alongs. The same could be said of "Satellite," which shies away from pop's brightness altogether with raindrop melodies, a twisted call and response between stormy clouds of synth bass and distorted strings, and Clark's most affected lyrics yet.

Returning to the dancefloor, London-based Scotsman Drums of Death reworks "Reach Out Feel" with a meditative house treatment that builds a groove using cymbal clashes, frantic handclaps, and cowbell straight from the Universal Robot Band's classic "Barely Breaking Even." Eventually hitting its payload with some fuzzy analog bass and warm key work, Drums of Death's remix takes shape as pragmatic addition to the package—it's something working DJs can gravitate towards—but the real weight of this release comes from Clark's intricate and nuanced electronic pop.

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