Reggie Dokes, Haiti


Illustration by Sagaki Keita

[Royal Oak]


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Like some of his peers — Ibex and Delano Smith spring to mind — Reggie Dokes doesn’t release a lot of material, striving to keep the quality high instead of being prolific. He has certainly succeeded with his aim on this release, and it’s fair to say that Haiti, his second outing on Clone’s Royal Oak offshoot, is as close to perfection as modern dance music gets. A large part of its appeal is Dokes’ ability to take inspiration from his hometown’s past and it is this focus on seemingly old-fashioned elements like melodies and soulfulness that sets Haiti apart in a world of gray-scale house and techno.

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The title track starts with steely, pummeling drums, which despite sounding intense are also imbued with an all too rare rawness and resonance. However, it’s the seductive piano keys, lush and melancholic, but equally uplifting and celebratory, that make “Haiti” so special. Indeed, this track again poses the age-old dilemma for critics, especially those working in electronic music: how does one articulate in words the joyous feeling that the cascading keys invoke? Such considerations also have to be made when assessing “God of House.” This time, the rhythm is more understated and Dokes’ uplifting keys take center stage. Combined with strings so sensuous, symphonic and delicate that they could easily be mistaken for a long-lost Derrick May track from his production period, these elements do, without sounding cliched, have something spiritual about them. It may be because of the track’s title or due to the arrangement’s looser, boogie rhythm; or maybe it has something to do with the soulful heritage Dokes is drawing on, from early house and techno back to his hometown’s Motown era, but “God” left even this writer, an avowed atheist, touched.

Finally, Clone deserves praise to entrust a relatively unknown act with remixing Dokes. Jozef Lemmens and Pierre van der Leeuw, aka Morning Factory from the Netherlands, have a tough act to follow but rise to the occasion admirably. The duo’s take on “Once Again” is dark and driving in a Chicago warehouse style — as opposed to the current techno meaning of that word — and despite the use of insistent filters, they find the space to leave those magical piano keys untouched. Dokes’ next appearance may be some time away, but in the interim, Haiti is sure to keep house lovers happy.

tom/pipecock  on May 4, 2011 at 10:32 AM

The first release on Reggie’s new label Kuumba also just dropped, it too is outstanding. Reggie is the man!

Blaktony  on May 4, 2011 at 10:41 AM

Perfection.

Per Bojsen-Moller  on May 4, 2011 at 12:40 PM

Got my copy in the post today. Booootiful

mats  on May 4, 2011 at 5:49 PM

always interesting, Reggie Dokes.. Taking house music to new places.
This release sounds really good, but, I’m pretty sure it’s called “Once Again” and not “Haiti”.

Morning Factory  on May 5, 2011 at 3:29 AM

Thanks for the kind words.

Sincerely,
Morning Factory

lipps  on May 5, 2011 at 8:02 AM

brilliant

Dean  on May 5, 2011 at 12:56 PM

His new one on Kuumba is as heavy as anything I’ve heard in ten years. Reggie’s stuff has always stood out to me, wish he released the Electronic Mind album on wax! Good call on Delano and Tony(Ibex)also, good to see those guys get props, they are WAY under recognized.

Sibonelo Zulu  on May 6, 2011 at 2:41 AM

I am happy I ordered this. Its somewhere in the mail. I am browsing for that Kuumba release you guys are mourning about….

gema lopez  on May 10, 2011 at 11:53 AM

Outstanding!

Trackbacks

Little White Earbuds April Charts 2011 | Little White Earbuds  on November 25, 2011 at 6:51 PM

[…] Out” (Tin Man Remix) [Shaddock Records] 04. Burial, “Stolen Dog” [Hyperdub] 05. Reggie Dokes, “Haiti” [Royal Oak] 06. Kenton Slash Demon, “Daemon” [Tartelet Records] 07. WK7, “Higher […]

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