Release Date: Jun 4, 2013
Record label: Island
Genre(s): Electronic, House, Garage, Club/Dance, 2-Step/British Garage
In recent years, dance music's growing mainstream prominence has led to a number of excellent debuts: SBTRKT and Holy Ghost!'s self-titled efforts, Classixx's Hanging Gardens, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs' Trouble, and Katy B's On a Mission, to name a few. These records gained notice for recontextualizing the sounds of dance's various sub-genres-- disco, dubstep, house, and more-- into pop-leaning structures. The latest addition to this list is Settle, the brilliant debut album by Disclosure.
Settle, the debut LP from British brothers Guy and Howard Lawrence, is as perfect a summertime houseparty soundtrack as we’re likely to get in 2013. If that’s what you’re looking for—pure pleasure-center appeal—you can stop reading, put the record on, and guiltlessly enjoy Settle on that level alone. But like all great pop musicians, Disclosure knows how to tongue around the edges of genre, subtly exploring a wide range of sounds without ever interrupting the dopamine stream at their music’s center.
DisclosureSettle[PMR Records; 2013]By Will Ryan; June 10, 2013Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGTweetDisclosure is the rare artist that's managed to stay a step ahead of the hype. It seemed the brothers Lawrence knew exactly what they wanted Disclosure to be upon arrival in 2010 with their frank mixture of classic house and UK garage. Even before their name had caught on with broader dance and indie landscapes in early 2013, they released their foray into pop, The Face EP, a record that still justifies all the coverage and chart success the duo has managed in recent months, by itself.
The dark cloud looming over the music industry today is the fact that artists aren’t just competing with people making their own music, but with music that’s accessible for virtually nothing. It’s especially evident where thumping electronica is involved — with Ableton, a used synthesizer from Craigslist, and a relatively quiet space, you can create an album and share it on a global scale. Yet within the brazen world of electronica artistry, UK duo Disclosure have established a very specific niche in the widened range of beat-threaded projects that permeates the Internet sphere on a second-by-second basis.
In the 90s, it was "intelligent." Today "credible" is the condescending buzzword producers use to discriminate between techno, house and disco on the one hand and the dance pop of Lady Gaga on the other. But every once in a while, an act that appeals to both equally standoffish camps comes along and unites snobs of all stripes on one dance floor. This year that act is Disclosure, the barely legal brotherly British duo of Guy and Howard Lawrence.
Cunning if not particularly novel synthesists, Surrey's Guy and Howard Lawrence draw from several styles and sub-styles of dance music -- house, garage, dubstep, bass -- and add pop appeal on Settle, their first album. The Lawrences began humbly with MySpace uploads of scruffy, sampling-enhanced dubstep tracks, but they quickly accelerated to making lustrous, impeccably assembled tracks with varied vocalists. Between October 2012 and April 2013, the duo released a trio of singles that fared no worse than number 11 on the U.K.
When Hot Natured's "Benediction" broke the top 40 in the UK, Jamie Jones felt the need to defend himself. "White Noise," Disclosure's second single from Settle, peaked at number two. But Guy and Howard Lawrence aren't on the defensive—far from it, in fact. The UK duo have embraced pop music, and who can blame them? They wear it just fine.
Already scoring a trio of Top 20 hits in their native UK, Disclosure have released Settle with a certain degree of swagger. And it's exactly this level of buoyancy that makes the English brothers' debut such a brazen tour-de-force. Assembling a crew of hot-shit up-and-coming collaborators like AlunaGeorge, Jamie Woon and Jessie Ware, Disclosure manage to deliver a 14-track collection that comes off stronger and more eclectic than many of the best DJ mixes.
You can see why labelling this deep house might cause the kind of consternation among purists parodied on the Downfall clip. Perhaps the term is doomed to become dance music's equivalent of emo, a phrase applied to so much disparate music that it's ceased to have any meaning. Either way, it's better to concentrate on what Settle is than what it isn't, because what it is is laudable.
Full Disclosure: I’ve been eagerly anticipating Settle since this duo’s debut single landed on my literal doormat. Two point five years ago ‘Offline Dexterity’ tickled soles and souls the world over, but now the two precocious (well, borderline, they’re 19 and 21) brothers from Reigate have a lot of hype to live up to. This debut full-length is preceded by ‘Carnival/I Love….That You Know’, ‘Tenderly/Flow’ and more latterly a few of Settle‘s own big hitters.
In 2001, The Strokes were hailed as the saviors of rock ‘n’ roll after a period in which the music listening public was worried that the beloved genre had died. As it turns out, they weren’t part of some greater revival along with The White Stripes and The Hives, but were a set of skilled young musicians and songwriters who were able to produce a great rock ‘n’ roll album that many now consider a classic. Now, with rock ‘n’ roll back in full swing, as 2012 and even more so 2013 has been a great year for brash punk and heavy metal, those still mulling over LCD Soundsystem’s 2011 dissolution and the fact that Daft Punk’s new record, even if great, doesn’t really fill their computerized dance music needs, are ostensibly turning to young UK classic house duo Disclosure to be the new saviors of dance music.
With admirable confidence, Disclosure recently compared their debut album ‘Settle’ to the work of global superstars Daft Punk. But really, Guy and Howard Lawrence have much more in common with a different dance duo: UK garage veterans Artful Dodger. For starters, the brothers clearly share a love for the sort of funky house and 2-step you’d find on ‘Pure Garage’ compilations alongside AD classics such as ‘Re-Rewind’.
Pop fan Guy Lawrence, 21, felt dance-music nirvana when he heard Joy Orbison's 2009 dubstep head-fuck, "Hyph Mngo." With brother Howard, 18, he's heir to the tradition of the Chemical Brothers, Basement Jaxx and Daft Punk: marquee EDM duos as devoted to vocal-driven songcraft as they are to beatmaking. The pair's debut is a modest masterpiece of production finesse, rooted in house but borrowing from hip-hop, dubstep and other club mutations. Listen to AlunaGeorge's warped Cockney flourishes on the buoyant "White Noise," or the voicelike keyboard pulses on the triumphant deep-house jam "Defeated No More." These bros know how even subtle tweaks can turn the pedestrian ecstatic.
The hype machine has been in overdrive lately for a UK-duo called Disclosure, made up of two brothers named Guy and Howard Lawrence. After a series of deep/funky house EPs spread out over nearly two years, their debut LP, Settle, has arrived. When it’s good, it soars. Sometimes the high point will be a whole song, as the case is with the wildly impressive Latch or the AlunaGeorge assisted White Noise, and other times it’s a chorus, such as when Sasha Keable takes her turn at the microphone on Voices.
One should not get too hung up on youth, especially when club/pop crossovers are mooted. But upwardly mobile production duo Disclosure features two brothers, aged 21 and just 18, whose deft productions belie the fact that the younger Lawrence, Howard, cannot perform legally in some of the clubs at which they DJ in the US. Two of these cuts have already graced the top 10; the rest of Disclosure's debut album showcases a sound in which the echoes of two-step, UK funky and older house records recombine into a surprisingly timely and moreish soundtrack.
“As much as you like to control your environment, the reality is: everything changes.” These words come from motivational speaker and self-proclaimed “hip-hop preacher” Eric Thomas on the fire-and-brimstone-filled “Intro,” the obvious opener to Disclosure’s Settle. When U.K. garage and bass has had a unyielding foothold across the pond for the better part of a decade, it’s been consumed heavily—with only a few notable outliers like Burial—by a minority subculture stateside.
byBENJI TAYLOR Music is cyclical. Like all trends it follows unruly patterns, a shifting tide retreating back and forth, with continuous reconstruction of earlier works. At some stage a genre pauses for a moment of introspection and reflection, peering into the shadowy depths of the past to draw inspiration for the present and the future. Deep house as a sub-genre of EDM was considered by many to be too esoteric and subtle to erupt from the underground, but when Disclosure’s fifth single "White Noise" peaked at number two in the UK Singles Chart in February 2013, it felt like the melodic harbinger of winds of change for house music.
Electronic dance music producers looking to late-'80s/early-'90s house music-inspired club sounds as a template for new material was perhaps an inevitable move. We are now in full retro sway, 20 years removed from the chart successes of Black Box, Deee-Lite and Snap! after all. The real surprise is how much inspiration they were able to harvest from within the same sleek synth tones and steady beats of their predecessors.
Out of intention or otherwise, ‘Settle’ opens with an aptly titled song: ‘When A Fire Starts To Burn’.That’s how it felt when Disclosure’s stock began to rise in 2012, when European festival dates to crowds in the thousands became commonplace. It wasn’t just brothers Guy and Howard Lawrence’s name that spread like wildfire, it was this big, fat house revival that came to light too. The fire’s still burning, in fact, ‘Settle’ being the temperature peak.Because ‘Settle’ is more than just the disc it’s contained within.
There’s a moment near the end of the ’N Sync song “Up Against the Wall” -- it’s from the boy band’s 2001 swan song, “Celebrity,” if you don’t recall -- where one of the group’s members, suddenly overcome with his enthusiasm for the track’s sleekly propulsive groove, cries out, “Whoo! 2-step!” It's not clear who utters the words, though my bet is JC Chasez, ’N Sync’s most committed club-music fan. (His adventurous 2004 solo set, “Schizophrenic,” includes a cut produced by Basement Jaxx. ) This is a modal window.
Speaking to FACT last year, Ben Parmar, one half of the team behind record label PMR, outlined his plan to “change people’s perception of what pop music is and what it should sound like”. Sure, it’s obvious that the label already had the connections and backing to make this happen – a recent Guardian piece that compared PMR to genuinely self-made labels like Hyperdub left a bad taste – but it’s impossible to deny that the label has, by rounding up some of the underground’s most accessible acts and offering them the sort of studio advantages, advertising budget and radio connections that PMR can provide, influenced British pop music more than any other label in the last year. The success of Jessie Ware’s Devotion is the most obvious example of the PMR machine in action, but it’s only half of the story: the label also coaxed producers like Julio Bashmore, T.
Much of the commentary surrounding Disclosure has suggested that they are this generation's "crossover" dance act, squeezing the melting pot of the past half decade's dance trends - predominantly bass music and house - into a sleek, chart-friendly package, and turning out catchy, vocal-led pop music that stands in direct opposition to the abhorrent, genetically spliced pop/dance being peddled by the likes of David Guetta, Avicii, and Will. i. am.