Dusted Reviews

Dirt Crew - Blow

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Reviews

Artist: Dirt Crew

Album: Blow

Label: Mood Music

Review date: Nov. 24, 2009

What’s the meaning of minimal? As a listener, it signifies more the kind of house music where everything in the mix is subordinate to the bass drum than a particular historical development. The backlash against it — I trust it exists if for no other reason than reading Philip Sherburne’s writing — seems to be a reaction against a tendency towards excising anything perceived as too musical, or musical for the wrong reasons. And while minimal has waned significantly over the past years in favor of its more identifiably musical precursors, reticence is still part of the vocabulary of 4/4 electronic music in general, with samples or keyboard melodies bouncing dubbily across the surface but never sinking into the fabric of the music. DJ sets can be amazing precisely because they can feel like a night-long juggling act, keeping things aloft while the real work is happening below, but as a home listening experience this approach can also feel withholding.

Dirt Crew, the German duo of Peter Gijselaers (Break 3000) and Felix Eder (James Flavour), aren’t technically minimal — you’re more likely to encounter the adjective "deep" surrounding them — but neither are they personality-based producers whose music takes pains to tweak its own formal parameters. Their second album Blow never takes a hard turn, weaving unambitiously through classic house styles with a glossy techno sheen. Gijselaers and Eder are perfectly happy to let their connoisseurship play out without any funny business, and Blow doesn’t suffer for a lack of novelty per se, but does frustrate with an overbearing consistency. The surface of Dirt Crew’s second album is taut, uniform and grey, stretched out like a tarp over each kick, and the duo bounce some interesting-if-modest melodic ideas across to the listener. Although there are no real lulls here, neither are there any outright moments where these elements bubble over into something greater, a moment where they loosen their control.

"Clap" provides an object lesson in how even good ideas fail to make an impression. The track is structured around a pretty standard deep house template, with a techno-inflected keyboard sequence in the higher frequencies that creates a slight tension. When Dirt Crew drop in a forlorn two-note trumpet sample that suggests it has been lifted from the recording sessions of that TLC song "Creep,” it gives the listener pause. Are these two going to follow this to its outrageous, logical conclusion?

The answer is obvious at this point, and shouldn’t suggest that those who draw mostly only on house music in order to make same are mistaken or stunted, but nothing here feels bodily enough to really be ‘house.’ I’m struggling to find an explanation as to why, finally, Blow fails to make any lasting impression. It’s plenty pleasant in the moment, but doesn’t offer me any more reason to revisit it than, say, Steve Bug’s Fabric 37. No shade on Mr. Bug, either, but along with Dirt Crew, he’s in dialogue with a deep level of knowledge about house music that isn’t immediately accessible or relevant to everyone. Not a crime in and of itself, but that insularity can make difficult-to-approach tracks harder to enjoy or remember.

Dirt Crew has done great work in the past, and their mixes are consistently engaging. There’s no doubt that Blow is high-caliber, well-informed house music, but this is only insofar as its technical qualities are concerned.

By Brandon Bussolini

Read More

View all articles by Brandon Bussolini

Find out more about Mood Music

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.