Canadian house duo Art Department -- longtime Toronto club scene veterans Jonny White and Kenny Glasgow -- made a massive splash in the dance music world with their 2010 debut single, "Without You. " A mind-numbing slice of stark, minimal tech-house sporting a crushingly bleak, bleary-eyed vocal from Glasgow, sounding like he was on the brink of utter depravity, the track met with tremendous acclaim and, it's safe to say, ratcheted up considerable anticipation for the duo's debut album. And rightly so: The Drawing Board is a near-flawless work of deep, dark, moody modern house; an expansive, atmospheric odyssey equally primed for wee-hours dancefloors and late-night headphone sessions.
If you've spent any time over the last 20 years in the Toronto underground house scene, Kenny Glasgow should be a familiar name. As a DJ, he's a local legend, but he never really broke out as a producer, and most of us had given up hope that he'd make it outside of the local late-night party scene. So it was a very pleasant surprise to see Art Department, his collaboration with Jonny White, blow up internationally over the past year.
Like many dancefloor hits, Art Department's 2010 house anthem "Without You" was a simple idea, simply executed: gloriously uncomplicated snapping house percussion and a bassline that sounds like a sinking feeling, while over the top a ghastly corpse of a vocal (via member Kenny Glasgow) intones dully, "I don't know what to do without you/ I just can't make it without you. " Glasgow sounds like an obsessive who's lost his grip on reality. Despite the emptiness it was a dancefloor favorite; perhaps dancers recognized its deep well of depression as the necessary flipside to all the good vibes, the dark outline that provides both definition and pathos to endlessly repeated big nights out.
Canadian duo’s debut LP is a house purist’s wet dream. Matthew Bennett 2011 In today’s dizzy dance market it’s easy to overlook, perhaps even deride house music as a relic – or worse, as simply irrelevant. But house is often (as we’ve bashfully discovered) the old faithful when it comes to trading in niche. So whilst attentions may wander, lustfully chasing such promiscuous genres as UK funky, drumstep or fidget, we have become accustomed to shamefully creeping back to this calm lover once fads have evaporated under the heat of their own hype.