You are here

Album of the Week: Art Department - The Drawing Board

Over a year's worth of hype sees Art Department as top long player choice this week.

Artist: Art Department
Album: The Drawing Board
Label: Crosstown Rebels
Release Date: 25/04/2011

“To be a good engineer you need to hear to make sure you get what you want, the way you want it. You've got to always remember the name of the game is what does it sound like?”

And so closes What Does It Sound Like?- a track that, deliberately or not, nods to the staggering production quality throughout this LP. When No.19 Music owner Jonny White and four-four legend Kenny Glasgow announced their return under the Art Department banner people began expecting something special, and this won't disappoint.

If size matters though, we might have a problem. Because far from the usual hallmarks of celebrated dance albums (i.e. huge tunes), here the contemporary underground's smooth subtlety defines the content. Which should surprise few familiar with the pair's oeuvre.

Nor will it shock those who recognise the style of collaborators like Seth Troxler and Soul Clap. The latter of which appear on We Call Love, alongside Osunlade, to deliver a male-led vocal track with stripped beats that belie the background depth. A range of instruments help develop a complex cacophony of ascending basslines and tracking synths, while the message is all classic house. In short, a jazzy summer stepper.

This richness is inherent in Troxler's number too. Though here we're taken into druggier territory, as distorted lyrics cry and whispers reference gangsterism. All the while keys build in the background, while an electro edged baritone grounds the arrangement. The result makes for a sure-fire e-funk-fuelled hip-mover, and not just in the steamy, intimate basements and bars the tune conjures up images of.

It's worth taking note however that this is by no means a dancefloor album. But then it's not aimed at the home stereo either. And, while subterranean venues suit the sound, there's no denying there will be more than a few rays of sunshine hitting this disc as the summer kicks in. Evening drinks on the terrace anyone?

Hypothetical questions aside, there's a firm experimental edge here too. Take the roughly cut urban beats of In the Mood, a broken, bluesy affair that's not a million miles from Playgroup, all string stabs and Roland low end. Or check out the building electronic-symphony that is Roberts Cry, a futurist composition Giorgio Moroder would be proud of.

Both tracks are less traditional, and go a long way towards validating the hunger press and public have felt for this release. As does the closing tune, I C U, which, as the most mainroom piece here, is best described as something a syncopated synth band would create, if they focused on lackadaisical lyrics. Like the broken house flavours that define this album overall, it shows deft hands were behind this 11-strong collection. Enough said then, now go buy.

Circoloco listings - 2023

Related content

Select date