If you’re the sort of British dance producer who wears a scarf in photo-ops, odds are your music will fall back on the slightly nostalgic handbag house era of the early 90s. And you can hear the sequin evening gown ghosts of Robin S and CeCe Peniston in Duke Dumont’s music. You also hear a modernist veneer applied, similar to what Fort Romeau and Magic Touch have been releasing on 100% Silk and Ghostly (who Dumont rightfully credits as one of the best American labels of the last decade).
But there’s also a soulfulness there that can’t come from just studying. Dumont incorporates touches of vintage Chicago House and maybe even a little bit of classical Stax and Motown soul, the sort of thing you absorb via osmosis when your dad is a major record collector. Mentored by Switch, Dumont didn’t start releasing original productions until relatively recently. Previously only known for remixes of Lily Allen and Bats for Lashes (shout out to 2008), Dumont’s breakthrough was this April’s “Need U (100)%.” The title itself is a riff on Crystal Water’s “100% Pure Love” and plays out like it.” Piano house vamps, diva vocals, and grooves that would be at home at a steel mill on The Simpsons. While it’s largely an NPR hit in America, the track soared to the top of the charts in England. After all, without England, house might have remained the province of New York, Chicago and Detroit DJs (and perhaps spared us from Hollywood club house music, which is almost a fate worse than going deaf).
Dumont dropped his second single yesterday. It’s called “Hold On,” which is about as generic of a 1992 house track title as you could find. But in the fluttering beats and falsetto vocals, it kind of comes off like a disco James Blake or a more restrained Hercules and Love Affair. Either way, Sylvester would probably approve. It shows a bit more range for the London producer and figures to expand his run deep into the summer. The tracks will cost you dollars or pounds, but Dumont has dropped several free mixes over the last few months that will have you screaming “get loose” at your toaster oven. So I heard from a friend.