"Graveyard Tan" should come with a warning on the label that says, "Only play between the hours of 1 a.m. and 5 a.m." The debut collaboration between Crosstown Rebels darlings Art Department and Konrad Black, a fellow Canadian purveyor of deep and techy sounds, this is a track that thrives in the dead of night.
Since Art Department first began to seriously turn heads back in 2010, the duo has been hailed for reviving deep house. West Coast mainstays Mark Farina and Marques Wyatt probably wouldn't agree, as the deepness of "Graveyard Tan" is more akin to dancing your way out of a k-hole than it is boogying to bubbly bass and jazzy riffs. These dudes are cut from the asymmetrical black cloth of Damian Lazarus. On the surface, pairing with Black, a consummate technoist, may not seem like an obvious match, but the result makes it clear that these two musical entities were meant for one another.
Rather than reviving deep house, "Graveyard Tan" is resurrecting it, zombie style. Presented in two versions—basically variations on a theme—each is a spellbinding and dark affair. Giving up just a hint of soul, the track chants a single word, "baby," which is tempered by a delightfully spooky synth line. Slinking forward with a forceful kick and a throbbing bass pulse that recalls vintage Plastikman, both versions slowly reveal Black's influence in the studio. In truth, there's actually very little that separates the two incarnations. A preference for one versus the other would come down to the state of the dancefloor it's being played for. Picture a pitch-black room with masses of grooving shadows quivering to the bellow of a Void sound system and you've found the "Graveyard Tan" sweet spot. If the place seems like it needs a kick, go with the extra bump you get with "Version 1." If a blissed-out vibe is in the air, stick with the slightly spacier "Version 2."
A more appropriate classification for the deep and druggy sounds heralded here would be gothic house, a term Art Department and fellow purveyors like the Visionquest crew have resisted, but with this one, their fate has been sealed. After all, it's called "Graveyard Tan."