DJ Duke, Summer Madness

[Self Defence Records]


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In my mind, it’s difficult to dissociate DJ Duke from his tough 1990’s output. Half soulful, half ravey, many of his releases sit on the rougher end of New York house, and it’s hardly surprising to hear them pop up in contemporary mixes by people like Levon Vincent. Duke’s been relatively quiet of late, and Summer Madness, on the German Self Defence label, marks his return. For the most part, it’s a bit brighter than his best-known material, but the trademark intensity is intact.

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“Summer Blast” is a punchy garage shuffler; the rhythm is palpably deep and spacious, and this is capitalized upon as Duke manages to dump all manner of bits in the mix — strings, squiggly synths, a marimba solo, muted rave stabs. That it’s a “blast” is definitely accurate. “Garden Jazz” is a little less hectic, with synth and key solos trading off above a bass line-led groove. “Eclipse” builds around uptempo Latin percussion and a driving, rubbery bass line. Duke inserts slightly cheesy rave organ lines in between, which nevertheless fit the track’s spirited atmosphere. These first three tracks are sturdily built and impeccably clean, but it’s hard to shake the feeling that they’re going to get most of their play in big rooms, as their manic energy is well-tailored for impatient (or fickle) crowds. Even if it’s meant to be the wind-down, “Night Fall” is a superb conclusion, dimming the crazed antics of the prior three with some restraint. Like its predecessors, it focuses on a synth solo and organ stabs, but spaces them out over a pulsing bass line and spectral pads, its build more organic and nuanced. Summer Madness mostly panders to those seeking party tracks, but its introspective conclusion is a testament to Duke’s depth as a musician.

S_Salazar  on July 15, 2011 at 4:48 AM

YES! Heard Steve Mizek drop SUMMER BLAST at Smart Bar a few weeks back. Sounded lovely on that Function One system

kuri  on July 18, 2011 at 3:51 PM

Duke and his labels have been on my radar the past few months, so this comes as nice surprise to know he’s still in the game.

Trackbacks

Little White Earbuds July Charts 2011 – Little White Earbuds  on August 6, 2011 at 12:32 PM

[…] Electrical Systems] (buy) 08. Levon Vincent, “Man or Mistress” [Novel Sound] (buy) 09. DJ Duke, “Summer Madness” [Self Defence Records] (buy) 10. Juju & Jordash, “Chelm Is Burning” [Golf Channel […]

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