Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Deep Teknologi: The New House Sound of London

I've been big on Deep Teknologi for a while.  After choosing them (a house record, yes) for my short-lived bass music monthly column's inaugural record of the month, I've been following them as closely as possible, and their gradual rise seems to be just that -- perpetually on the rise.  What or who is Deep Teknologi, you ask?  A London-based duo of producers helming a larger label crew who push a tough, clever, and ruffnecked house style with the kind of LDN influences you might expect: garage an' all that.  I called them "UK to the bone" last year, a statement that I have trouble bettering to this day, despite the fact they've now brought a German duo into their fold.  As a collective unit, they push a diverse and multifarious sound that quakes with the experimental potentialism of contemporary UK dance music but nailed down with the cool, assured lope of traditional house music both American and European.  The best way to talk about their sound is to talk about the producers themselves, so read after the jump for a quick breakdown of who they are and why they matter, as well as an exclusive mix from Deep Tek mastermind S.E.F.

To say Deep Teknologi had a good year in 2010 would be an understatement.  The year acted as their de facto debut, the first salvo coming from rising star T Williams (formerly known to some as DJ Dread D).  Originally intended to initiate their digital-only eponymous label, the three track single ("Afric" / "Anthem" / "Flooring") was picked up by FACT Magazine's Tom Lea to debut on his own brand new label Local Action, and thus LOC001 was born, an absolutely thrilling EP backed to the brim with rhythmic muscle.  The three-tracker was a perfect manifesto for the Deep Tek sound, second only to the monthly mixes and weekly ustreams by T Williams and S.E.F.  Carrying that "UK to the Bone" swing-and-slam, the textures were polished and smoothed-over, opalescent grooves that blended just as well with geographical compatriots as it does with modern house from all over the continent.  One moment that sticks out particularly was on one of those ustreams, S.E.F. mixing all original Deep Tek tracks and sneaking in Ame's "Rej" -- a rinsed-out classic for sure, nothing too surprising, but the way it seemed to disguise itself in the Deep Tek cloak was an illuminating moment.  These guys just do something different.  

T Williams went on to release another Local Action EP, the gorgeous garage-house whisper "Heartbeat," featuring a plaintive vocal from Terri Walker, which won plenty of critical acclaim, oddly enough even being picked by iTunes as the #3 electronic track of 2010.  With releases lined up for other labels and a pocket full of impressive dubs (see his XLR8R podcast for proof), T Williams looks to be the crew's breakout star, and so far has acted as its default public face.  But beyond just him is their growing label roster: J Bevin, whose tracks epitomize the label's more syncopated and aggressive side (see the alternately punishing and groovy "When It Comes," a personal favourite of mine), and the buzzing electro house -- the good kind of electro house -- of Zander Hardy, who provided Deep Tek's label with a fantastic second release in his Hard EP.  Then there's Don Morris, who provided the label with its first release way back when, two more traditional house tracks of the sort championed in this post's exclusive mix.  Most recently, they've enlisted the German duo JTRP whose playful tracks tread ground remarkably close to Deep Teknologi's established aesthetic, organ-heavy and melodic.

Deep Teknologi has also seen its fair share of changes. Billed originally as a coherent group, "Deep Teknologi" was supposed to refer to just T. Williams & S.E.F., with Deep Teknologi Records acting as the basis for their growing crew, which right now consists of Don Morris, Zander Hardy, JTRP and J Bevin, as outlined above.  There are more coming, but S.E.F. remains tight-lipped with the details.  It also must be stressed that despite the convenience of a brand name, Deep Teknologi is not a distinct entity outside of its two leaders: Deep Teknologi is two individuals with a record label. It's not an exclusive entity either, with members and associates going on to release on other labels as well.  But as it is, it's a convenient umbrella for a sound that's growing more popular and more effective by the minute.  What makes Deep Teknologi so exciting is how it seizes on the resurgence of house in the UK -- house is no longer 'uncool' -- and not only acts on the impulses of the dubstep-cum-house bass music of producers like Deadboy and Mosca but also more 'mainstream' producers like Maya Jane Coles, in addition to Continental house usually ignored by the UK's new wave of house compatriots.  It's an international sound with a decidedly national identity, classy and classic, but not obsessively backward-looking either.  These guys know their stuff, and know it well: hell, they were playing Breach's "Fatherless" last winter before anyone else had even heard of that track.  If that isn't enough to convince you, well..

The mix here crafted by S.E.F. is a perfect exemplar for what I've been saying.  Mixing in tracks from all over the map including Maya Jane Coles, Steve Bug, Simian Mobile Disco, Julio Bashmore, and Justin Martin, these tracks blend effortlessly in with homegrown numbers from T Williams and JTRP.  It's a steady, building mix of diverse sounds with a constant grounding in that clean, melodic Deep Tek foundation.  Of special note is the T Williams remix of "Fatherless," turning that track's panicky flute trills into a deliberate, confident stride.

S.E.F. "Revolution" Mix:

Breathe - Maya Jane Coles
Look - T.Williams
Where Is It? (Steve Bug's 9 Minutes Of Freedom Remix) - Will Saul & Tam Cooper
Tactile - Unknown                                      
The Freaks Come Out - Idiotproof
Bait - Unknown
DJ - Horror
Oliver Twizt feat. Maluca - Loca
Nebula - Lex Aurell
Skin Cracker - SMD
Sweat (On The Walls) - John Tejada
My Drum - U.C.
Fatherless (T Williams Remix) - Breach
Julio Bashmore - Battle For Middle You
Justin Martin - Get Low (J Phlip Remix)
Hypnotise - JTRP

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