Review: Dusky at High Tide’s August Boat Party – 24.08.14


High Tide have a history of inviting top flight DJs around to Southampton and making the most of a tour on the waters. Who doesn’t love a little sea spray and sun, a taste of Ibiza on the Itchen. While the Hampshire weather may not always be blessed with a Balearic temperament, the crowd shows they can bring the party just as hard as any other spaced amnesiac.

The skippers on this leg of the voyage were Alfie Granger-Howell and Nick Harriman, the duo forming Dusky, hot off their latest EP release “Love Taking Over” and recent gigs in Ibiza. Support came from Waved residents Jose Bond and MJ Kenna on the lower deck and ALiVE label owner Tom Budden providing a deep and mellow house warmup set on the upper.

The headliners started up promptly at 6 (6PM, that is) with melodic crowd-pleasers such as Nathan Fake’s “The Sky Was Pink” and Moderat’s “Bad Kingdom”, the duo gradually brought in more deck-stomping techno fare, breaking down into nostaligic acid house riffs and classics to build up again.

Classic rave was fully represented, with Orbital’s “Chime” dropping at around 7 in the evening. As the evening built to a heady climax, the pair finally dropped what eveyone was expecting, playing “Love Taking Over” at about 8 and leading the last rally of tunes.

That’s not to say that the set relied on their big recent release in any sense. The fresh tracks played from across the spectrum of house, tech, and jack revealed a wide sonic palatte, and the tribute tracks peppered here and there showed deep knowledge and sophistication in musical pairings.

The vibe on the boat was always buzzing with dance – facilitated by the nearly tempo-synced swaying of the seas. Who could resist? After a drink or two, it was easiest to keep one’s balance by never letting the feet stand still. The floors inside were packed, but never uncomfortably so. As we were all locked into a four-hour tour, a mellowness pervaded, where no one felt pressured to pack it in for a fleeting, blowout DJ set.

However, to the partygoer hucking chairs off the back of the boat, I would love to know why you were so irate at our humble plastic recliners! Did you come up with the idea for a rear-end retainer first, only to find someone beat you to the patent? Did a chair strangle your family? The world may never know.

As Dusky look to be one of the big names shaping the sound of the underground house scene as the summer closes out, I keep hearing reflections of their trailblazing tracks in other mixes and sets.

In a summer where the festival has dictated and the incessent build-drop forumla of anodyne commercial EDM, it’s a relief to hear that soulful house slow-burn coming back into force. Grinding organs, brassy stabs, piano and guitar riffs are bringing roots back into techno, and as Dusky piloted this ship back to port, I note that can only be a good thing.

The good ship Ocean Scene, after some well earned R&R, is due out again September 20, under a heady steam of Detroit Techno from Seth Troxler.

8.0 Swimmingly

Diving deep +3
Getting lost at sea +6
Chairs can't swim! -1

  • Overall 8

About Author

A New York City native, Brendan has been on the club circuit for years, starting out as a regular at Twilo and Shelter during the rise of progressive techno and house in the late 90's. He has hosted a number of radio shows and managed electronic music promotion at WRTC Radio, where Gabriel&Dresden kick-started their trance career. He has also worked in the New York recording business as the Technical Director of KMA Music Studios. Most recently, Brendan has started his PhD at the University of Southampton, and writes on music, nightlife, and recording technology.