Album of the week: Detroit Swindle – High Life

There’s an unmistakeable bounce in Detroit Swindle’s step as they return to the album format for “High Life”. The Dutch, House duo made up of Lars Dales and Maarten Smeets have occupied a special place in House music since 2012, with  their debut “Guess What” lionising their music for a future generation of House music enthusiast.

Alongside the likes of Motor City Drum ensemble, they unfurled House music’s DNA into distinct strands that went from R&B, Jazz and Gospel, and retooled it for the modern dance floor. Intrepid four to floor kick patterns, warm chords and bass-lines that bounce across syncopated rhythms are Detroit Swindle’s purview and they very rarely wander from the formula.

On “High Life” they hardly mess with perfection, but like 2014’s “Boxed Out” they coerce it into the album format. Looking towards more popular forms in song structure rather than dance floor progressions, Songs like “Yes, No, Maybe” featuring Tom Misch and “Flavourism” featuring Seven Davis Jnr. bridge that impervious gap between the dance floor and the radio. 

 

Detroit Swindle spread their wings on this album however, more so than we’ve ever experienced in the past as they draw on a wide arching sonic palette to arrive at the sound of the album. It’s still a Detroit Swindle House album, but there’s a new kind of eclecticism that explored the borders way beyond the boundaries of House music’s DNA. From the funk driven bass-lines of “Freeqy polly” to the improvised progression of the Jungle by Night collaboration, “Call of the Wild”, Detroit Swindle offer a view from the side on “High Life”.

A trumpet solo, a singular electric piano extemporising on a melodic love song and vocals make for a texturally rich album with Detroit Swindle’s signature sound still providing the rock on which the house was built. The warm electric piano chords, those staccato synthetic bass-lines and persistent percussive patterns are still order of the day, and still dominate of tracks like “Ex machina” and “Cut u loose”, but like the cover art of “High Life” there’s a imperceptible depth that offers something a little more rewarding than the sum of their parts. 

Whether its a balearic strain creeping into their music or just the album format exposing a new side to the Dutch duo, Detroit Swindle offer us a slightly new take on their interpretation of House. It’s a still very much a Detroit Swindle record and call it an evolution or just a slight detour, “High Life” is unmistakably theirs, but delves a little deeper and stays there a little longer. 

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