It’s interesting to think that seven months ago, brothers Guy and Howard Lawrence were practically unknowns. They had nothing more than a few remixes under their belt until the release of their debut album Settle in early June. Suddenly they became one of the biggest names in house music and for good reason. It’s also interesting to think that seven months ago, I would have rather be stripped naked and thrown into a locked room full of rattlesnakes than to listen to a Disclosure song. The pristine vocals from a range of featured singers over the all-too-danceable beats would have prompted me to smash my stereo to bits with the cast iron skillet I use to cook my eggs. But as you know, I am a changed man, and to say that Settle was on repeat for the entirety of my summer is an understatement. I woke up to it, ate breakfast to it, fell asleep to it, ate breakfast to it, mowed the lawn to it, even ate breakfast to it. And it is interesting to think that I would still prefer to be stripped naked and thrown into a locked room full of rattlesnakes than to listen to a Disclosure song. In other words, I love Disclosure almost as much as I love rattlesnakes.
Disclosure really took the music world by storm in 2013, in a genre that has been disregarded by music lovers everywhere. UK garage house is a genre that many thought had died out in the late 90’s with the demise of the UK rave scene and that personally has always struck me as a wee bit boring. Guy and Howard took the genre and completely re-spun it, adding a modern twist and something of their own knack for lush melodies and beautiful song structure. But in essence, the genre of this magnificent album is almost irrelevant because it is such a demonstration of songwriting and musicality. When the rush of synths come in over Sam Smith’s vocals on Latch, it is a crime not to feel at least an inkling of euphoria. And of course there’s my all-time favourite When a Fire Starts to Burn, which samples a speech from Hip-Hop preacher Eric Thomas and has beat that is a righteous kick in the ass.
To stay with the current, Disclosure has just released a compilation album of various remixes of their songs that have popped up throughout the year. Although the album contains an all-star cast of producers like Baauer, Flume, Hudson Mohawke and Kaytranada, it was the Dj Premier remix that struck me the most. In the world of hip hop, Premier is an absolute legend, having defined the art of sampling with the long running underground rap duo Gang Starr and having produced albums for Jay-Z, Nas, Common, Kanye, Mos Def, Biggie… and the list goes on. So to see his name next to contemporary EDM artists was somewhat of a shock at first. Fortunately, he delivered, just as he always has, and for me, it is the best remix off the album. Yes Flume’sYou and Me is one of the most grandiose and spectacular drops of the past year, but Premier’s remix of Latch is so on point I almost puked. He completely reworks the song and changes the mood of it, taking it from a dance track to a more of a ballad, adding a beautiful piano line, which fairs just as well over Sam Smith’s encapsulating vocals. And the fact that a legend such as Dj Premier has remixed one of their songs is truly an ode to how far the brothers have come in the past year.