House-leaning London duo Dusky (a.k.a. Alfie Granger-Howell and Nick Harriman) burst out of the gate in 2011 with its full-length debut, Stick By This, for Anjunadeep, and has stayed busy since with a steady stream of propulsive EPs and singles. The pair's latest release, a four-track EP for Aus entitled Careless, finds the producers hunkering down with one ear attuned to classic dancefloor signifiers while the other remains focused on keeping their sonics clean and bright.
Careless' most notable tune might be "Esperanto Juggler," a wide-screened, mid-tempo house track with several interweaving melodic synth lines and a lurid, pitched-down vocal snippet. As always, Dusky's music sounds impeccable; there's little question that mixdown and mastering is an essential part of the duo's creative process. "Rise for Love" works in a similar tempo, albeit with a slightly more aggressive sonic edge. An ominous background swell and a prominent vocal contribute to a fluid arrangement that starts off minimal and sparse, but eventually swells into something full and detailed without giving the listener a chance to notice the track's seams. "Words Later On" also rolls out a slinky, minimal intro, but the track expands into a breathless climax, layering a hollow bass with disco-sourced hi-hats and a driving, one-note synth punctuation; despite this abundance of elements, the entire composition fits together elegantly and effortlessly. It's only the opening track, "Careless," that works within a more traditional dance framework, making quick work of a bouncy bass pattern and a familiar house underpinning.
Once again, Dusky has put together a release full of highly functional tunes, with the polished sonics to match. The duo is clearly talented, although one can't help but wonder if these producers are capable of pushing things a bit further. At this point, the pair's reliability is bordering on predictability. We've heard plenty of solid tunes from Dusky; it would be nice to hear some truly great ones.