Dam Swindle feat. Jitwam - Coffee In The Morning (Heist Recordings, 2020)
Updated: Nov 24, 2020
Everyone's favourite Dutch production duo strike gold yet again on this effortlessly soulful effort that exudes musicianship and passion at every turn.
Infusing heart and soul into everything you do always leaves a good impression. This can apply across the vast spectrum of dance music, where the musical identity of the musicians behind it all display their core values to us via their journeys and experiments through the genre they inhibit. The flavours and styles all weave and dip around the ideology that runs from the sharpest kick through to the most expansive series of chords you will ever hear, as the music continues to build up and dwell within us. Allowing the passions to guide the music always conjures up a diverse yet tangible thread of progression, where if we dip back through time and discographies we begin to see a pattern of thought and development occurring, where the successes of the previous EP are reimagined and packaged into a new side of the sound for us to latch on to. The essence remains the driving force, the one constant feature, but this allows for all manner of slight switches and tweaks to be applied to a sound that fearlessly dips and dives with grace and elegance, its appeal coming in the never-ending sense of expressionism that exudes from every corner. Be it applying a more live feel to proceedings, where the concept of mixing the intricacies and human touch allows for a really rich, organic and complex sound; or by following the pathway of utilising hardware to conjure up the deepest of the deep, there's no end to how the character of the music and the people behind it can apply themselves to their fullest extent. We sit within this sea of developing beauty, the connections we share with the music re-establishing themselves with each fresh listen, our adoration and investment in the music leaving us constantly in awe of what it means, where it can take us, and where they might take us on their next adventure.
Dam Swindle, in many ways, have achieved this kind of connection with music lovers for the past few years. Their discography reads like a beautiful journey through the very best of contemporary deep house, where the tempos range from fast paced to a slow canter, but the elements on top are always deeply engaging and thought provoking. A deft blend of chord progressions, often paired with a delicately balanced and groovy bass line, do the business to move the hearts and minds whilst the effortlessly graceful beats underneath provide a kind of rhythm that will make you move any time of the day. Each release builds from the previous, the duo's formula always being amended or added to in a way that keeps the core momentum going strong but provides a invigorating and fresh perspective on their musical journey. Whilst primarily operating in the realms of straight up deep house, the duo have also dabbled in downtempo and hip hop inspired sounds, with their creative melodic work operating as smoothly at a slowed down pace as it does when vibrating in a club. In the end, what comes across the most within the music is the passion, the passion and belief in what they do and how the music is pulled off, and this continually endears us to the music that exists within. It has a groove that pulls it all together with purpose and meaning, and we are all for it. As mentioned, their discography is a wonderfully joyous affair, with many excellent releases to pick from, with some of our favourite EPs including their excellent debut, 'Guess What', from 2012; the masterful 'Break Up To Make Up EP', from 2013; the brilliant 'Figure Of Speech E.P', from 2015; the groovy 'In Reverse EP', from 2016; the 'Can't Hold It EP' from 2017; and perhaps our MVP, the 'Rhythm Girl Swing EP' from last year. The duo have released two LPs, 2014s 'Boxed Out' and 2018's 'High Life', both of which offered an expanded view into their world, with all manner of flavours abounding from every corner. No matter what way you view it, the music these guys come up with is full of expressionism and beauty, with the balance between the highs and lows crafted and executed so flawlessly, with the character that emerges so infectious and inviting. Take a trip back through, you will not be disappointed.
So now we arrive at their latest offering, 'Coffee In The Morning', which is released on their label Heist. This time, the duo really embrace the meaning behind family effort, with a excellent cast of talent appearing on this record to inject a new dimension into their sound. With Kamaal Williams collaborator Jitwam joining in on vocals, Mauskovic Dance Band member Chris Bruining on live percussion, Finn Peters on sax, we are greeted to a Side A that just brims of the sheer epic ness of live sounding dance music, with each member involved delivering titan like performances. To top it all off, Prins Thomas features on Side B to deliver an unstoppable remix that does an excellent job at offering up a fresh take on the title track. With that kind of ensemble, vision and passion, what could go wrong? Lets take a dip, shall we.
We begin things off with the title track, and we dive feet first into this one. The drums are a calculated blend of fast paced hi hats and percussive elements, the kick underneath hammering home the rhythm, with the 2 note bass line reinforcing that drive with intensity. The additional conga adds just that extra slice of heaven into an already superb beat, as the vocals of Jitwam chiming in on top. His voice again just adds to the flow so perfectly, moving from more spoken word like lines before rising high above before fading away. This mild transition sees the chord line swing into proceedings, a proper Rhodes style jazz line that lays it down, as Jitwam's delivery becomes more fast paced and layered, which leads into the melodic breakdown that sees the chords really flex themselves. The interlude sees the vocals interplay with the sax that joins in from the back, but not long after we are back into full on swing, the drums and bass quickly joined by those sweet sweet chords. The sax follows suit soon after, and its quite the performance, with Peters starting off with a subtlety before ramping it up to full on sax excellence, and once more this build up signals the switch up into the next phase. The song is allowed to groove for a few more bars, Jitwam's vocals becoming decidedly more seductive as the track moves on and on, with the second melodic breakdown really amplifying the emotive character of this track. One final burst of energy sees the track see itself out of the room, into the early morning sunshine, with smiles all round. Perfect. Up next comes 'Move Out The Way', which begins in a more full on house surrounding. The loop of Jitwam's warm vocal line, repeating the song title with gusto and precision, as the song swells underneath via the ever growing synth line, as the drums slow and before bursting into life. The energy is upped ever so slightly, and this pattern allows for the chords to begin their journey, the stabs matching the drums for energy, as the singular chord then moves into the progression as the drums take a minute to breathe and pause. When in full flow, the track is something to marvel at, the depth of sound is joyous and playful, with its engulfing feel and vibe one that we can all get behind. The full chord line really does an emotional number on us, but its the manner in which the vocals permeate through at just the right moments that give this track all kinds of life. The tune moves into this lovely jazzy breakdown, where all manner of little key lines groove onto of the backdrop of goodness, as the track begins its cycle once more for one last triumphant blast through its structures. Oh yes.
Up next we have the Prins Thomas mix of the title track, and we begin in slow and steady contexts. The vocals slide and glide in and out of view in the backdrop, but move into a more prominent position right and centre, the drums underneath giving them the maximum amount of space to flourish. The sax joins in soon enough, as their killer interplay from the original cut works its magic once more here, with the drums slowly building in the background. The piano fills the middle ground with precision and mood, with the bass line abounding with ease and delight within the groove that comes on next. The manner in which the track stretches itself out, the sequencing of different layers and structures making the flow so rhythmically fluid, the additions of elements flowing in and out with each ease, the ebbs and flows so on point. The dynamics that grace the track are so on point, with the rising sax line giving the tune a real bolt of energy, with this kind of transitional build up being a key feature of this wonderful record. Around the mid way mark, we see Thomas add this delightful arpeggio line that weaves its way through the middle of proceedings, that quickly evolves into this beautiful procession of keyboard wizardry that keeps the vibes going into new and exciting places. What a stunner. Finally, we have the dub version of the title track, and the vibes keep on going on with this one. As with the original, its all kinds of beautiful and groovy, and we could have this on for a long long time to come. Swindle at their best, with a little help from their amazing friends. Grooves like this don't come by everyday.
The boundless instrumentation, the beautiful transitions, the drawn out compositions, the flair and dedication to the craft of groovy groovy house. Its all right here, and oh how is it pulled off with such brilliance. Swindle have been known far and wide for their expertly delivered tracks, but in this EP you see perhaps a slightly new element added into the equation. Via the vocal work, the sax and the impeccable live drumming, its an EP that exudes emotion, feelings that you can relate to not just via the structure of the music but what is being said. The narrative that plays out is one that will last long into the night, or morning, if you so please. Fucking ace.
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