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Manuel Darquart - The Adriatic (Infinite Pleasure, 2020)

The duo ramp up the infectious grooves with this extra delicious slice of summery house perfection.

Sometimes records and their sounds really do collide with our imaginations. Electronica truly does allow the mind to wonder, to areas far and wide, to realms beyond our wildest imaginations, to places we haven't been before but might visit someday, and to a context we visited and which is now forgotten to the annuals of time. Escapism within dance music has always been a thing, since anyone can remember, and the ways in which people have perceived then created this form of interpretation has always led to interesting and immersive rhythms and tones. Music has the power to craft a world, a world reflective of the environment we live in, or the realms of emotional connectivity, where the sounds, chords and solos amount to an experience we can get lost with purely by closing our eyes. The most vivid of these experiences tug at the heart strings, remind us fondly of a night in the dance, or place us firmly within the producers world. Its all about creating that bridge between our minds and the music, allowing us as listeners to become one with the contents of tracks, to get to know all the little moments, textures and feels presented before us. That is the true power of dance music, as it has the opportunity to place itself within the context of a club, where alongside its brothers and sisters, can be utilised to create a chain of thought that moves dancers through the night, the journey carried by the little pieces of narrative that carry them along. And, on the other side, the music stands alone, strong and proud, a creation that by itself holds a level of captivation, of draw and brilliance. To pull off both, to allow us to dwell within the singular, and within the plural, is quite the feat.

For a while now, Manual Darquart, aka Louis Anderson-Rich and Sean Whittaker, have been exploring this formula, finding the balance between the dance and the quiet moments in our lives. Their music, delicate to the touch and intelligent in its balance, resonates deep within listeners, the usage of beautiful chord sequences with considered drumming patterns very much winning over the hearts of many. Not only that, their music has a quiet playfulness to it, wherein many elements remain the consistent bedrock of their compositions, but there remains this lingering top layer where continued key lines, boogie rich bass lines and vocal samples keep the forward momentum going. Its a quite simply excellent approach, and over the course of their first two EPs, people have truly invested themselves in the music given over from the duo. Matching soft deep house chordal work with the drumming lines of Italo House, the blending of Balearic warmth with the progressive linearities of club music, with the surprise twist thrown in along the way, you can't really go wrong with their music. Their first record, 2017's 'Dippin & Trippin', was a introduction to the world of Darquart, where simmering synths and stabs did the business over mild yet compelling beats, giving the record a wonderfully laid back feel, an invitation to kick back and relax. The tracks swerved between Balaeric infused house and more club orientated vibes, but the overall feel remained consistent, the brilliance coming across through the considered explorations of their sound and vision. What would follow was their unbelievable 2018 EP, one of that year's best, and one of this writer's all time favourites, 'Birds of Paradiso'. The sheer scale of musical expression found within this 5 tracker is off the chain, where the musical structures flow from compelling slow burners to drawn out house classics, it's quite the experience. It also showed an important step in the right direction, building on their sublime debut and maxing out everything good about it, from the depths to the layering to the flows between styles. The record had everything, and everyone was absolutely loving it. Darquart had certainly curated something that was compelling, compulsive and moving, where the movement between styles and feels remained so bountiful and bold, their world mingling with ours. To say that anticipation for their next record was high would be an understatement to end all understatements.

And now, we arrive at that moment, with 'The Adriatic EP', out on Infinite Pleasure. Much like the body of water that the record shares its name with, the tunes contained with in take us in another direction on the duo's journey, where the vibes turn their focus more predominantly towards the dance. But, as ever, we get that immediate Darquart character to proceedings, where the chord progressions drive everything forward, the drums ring true, and the allure is at an all time high. So, lets take a dip in those deep blue waters.

The opener, 'In My Mind', begins off with the LFO chordal dips and weaves. Already, the taste of what to come has been introduced, the water like effects and bass line add to the weight of the intro, before it gives way for the drum line to kick in. Before long, the drumming is rejoined by the bass line, as the backdrop of synths lingers, before the chimes come into play. The chords move between two stabs, creating this real sense of momentum moving forward, as the flute like sequence interlays itself between the chords. The vocal sample abounds between the perimeters of sound like water, and the overall picture is one of absolute summery house perfection. As the emotive fullness passes, the track moves through various sequences of focusing on varying bass and drum layering, with the vocal sample taking real prominence as time moves on. Slowly, it all comes full circle, the vocal sample pulling back the chords and the flute sequence, and we then take the time to bask in its eternal glory. Tune. Up next comes 'High Tide', and we begin in more straight up territory. The bass line and kick act as the starting point, but before long the beat is dipped in the stylings of 90s dream house, with the additional toms and samples making the track that extra bit delicious. Then comes the chord progression, that alone sits atop all of this density, but it carves out its own little piece of heaven on top, the sequence doing enough by itself. Then the breakdown occurs, and the gently undulating pads swirl around the bottom of the pool, looking up at the setting sun, before ascending to the top, the original structure of the song hitting its stride once more. There's still time for some more wizardry, as gentle lines breeze in from above, acting as a brilliant interlude from the main emotive line. Superb.

Up next comes 'Lovin' U', where the qualities of the previous efforts combine effortlessly within this utter gem of a track. We begin in fullness territory, where layers of chords and lines come together to give over this sensual sense of a night about to begin. The percussive elements slide in underneath, easing us into it, before the kicks send the tune into its inevitable forward momentum. The main progression swings between two chords, but its all the layering that occurs around it that elevate this track, the little keys in the left ear, the pounding bass underneath it all, the synths that rise from the backdrop, the singular pads that resonate throughout. The composition of all this elements create this whirlwind of excitement, generating within us a pure connection to the dance floor, but also the world in which inspired the record. By the time the repeating vocal sample of 'Lovin' You' comes in, we are already so undeniably hooked on proceedings that the additional narrative washes over us with ease. An additional vocal line underneath completes the cycle, with the track easing itself out into the glimmering night sky. Finally, we arrive at 'Breeze', a suitably slow burning affair to take us down to earth. The drumming is incredibly full and expressive, and before long this is joined by the chordal work up above. Much like their earlier works exploring the sultry side of boogie tinged house, this one doesn't disappoint, as the chords continually work their way through the layers, and when the vocal line arrives, its just perfect. What an ender.

Within this record, there's much to absorb, and so much to loose yourself within. Darquart have quietly over their three records truly crafted a style and vision entrenched in the atmospheres of the imagination and the joys of life, their sound an enriching and nurturing one. Their blends of crafted chordal tones and rich progressive beats is something to behold, and with their latest record, goes to show how much they are capable of. Be it a representation of how they envisage the dance floor, or the moment when they wanted to say something meaningful, it can all be found within this record. A proper class act.

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