Duffstep - Getting to Sirius Album Review
Up until now the name 'Duffstep' has been hidden in the seedy underground of inner-city London, from which Jeremy Duffy has spent years plotting a possible escape route, with those in the know watching his career unfold steadily in the meantime. His record label 'Join The Dots' was born along with his other moniker, the funk-producing Duff Disco. Club nights and festival appearances followed, which have seen the former High Barnet native share a stage with the likes of Flying Lotus, Commix and Kode 9, and with his own European Tour imminent, 2011 is looking like the year in which he may just escape.
Debut album 'Getting To Sirius' sets a marker for where the man wants to get to. Ancient Greeks believed that Sirius' appearance as the brightest star in the night sky marked the start of summer whereby all women became aroused. If Duffy's chat is as impressive as his production then don't introduce him to your missus any time soon.
The feel of the album is a down tempo future garage sound penned for the home rather than in a club. Coining the name 'Duffstep' was a smart move though whether it'll start a genre in its own right as Leftfield did in the 90's remains to be seen. Opener 'Free' sets the tone immediately with a broken beat sat underneath shimmering percussion and an echoed vocal stab. It's a head-nodder or foot-tapper depending on your preference and sets up the Laurent Garnier-supported 'My Kiss' nicely.
The production is faultless as the beat saunters forward like a drunk on his walk home from the pub. Purposeful yet in no hurry, the breakdown at the halfway point has a Balearic feel, before the beat is turned up once more. The album plays like a set with the driving baseline and hypnotic brass section of 'On & On' juxtaposing the funk-laden 'Love The Freak', before the warpy 'Backseat' bowls into view.
It is fair to say that with down tempo albums of this ilk, Crooks and Lovers for example, some tracks do not stand as tall when listened to in isolation, or on shuffle, and there are a couple on 'Sirius,' 'Tired' and 'Love' proving more filler than thriller.
Penultimate track 'The Way It's Got To Be' marries an incomprehensible druggy vocal with the cleanest sounding 4x4 beat on the album. It's all a tease to the live show as the soundscapes return and the beat goes back into hiding as quickly as it appeared.
'Happy days' is the pick of the bunch however, with it's Air-like melody and female vocal perfectly contrasting the 11 tracks before it. It is a perfect 7am festival tune, sun-drenched and smiling, thoughts switch to home before the most warped baseline on the album drops and you're left thinking where the fuck did that come from? Then, just as quickly as it smashes you on your arse, it disappears again, behind the thick layers of production, and the smile returns.
With 'Getting to Sirius,' Duffstep manages to create a personal sound constantly in flux, twisting and spinning around a central axis whilst managing to retain a pleasing unpredictability. If the album had been released when it was finished a year and a half ago then it would score higher as the sound would've been fresher still, as it is the bar has been set for the producer to better in years to come. The only limit for the Duffstep mission to Sirius is the sky.