Summer Madness EP
Eighty of DJ Duke's releases—singles and EPs mostly, though DJ mixes and albums appear too—are listed at Discogs, so it's no surprise that his music has appeared on many labels, among them his own Power Music and Power Music Trax (apparently somewhere in the vicinity of 300 records emerged after his “Blow Your Whistle” blew up in 1993), and during the past few years, Duke's material has been issued on Superbad Music, These Days, and Slow To Speak. With releases dating back to 1990, you know the man's got skills aplenty, and they once again get a solid workout on his Summer Madness EP. Each of the tracks shows a different side of his music-making and rewards one's time and attention.
A bit of curry flavour seeps into “Summer Blast” by way of a sinuous string melody, adding an exotic tinge to the breeziness that otherwise infuses the cut. A funky, vibes-like motif and analog synth streams bring additional colour to the scene while a crisp, pumping groove locks everything solidly in place. The pulse powering “Garden Jazz” hits even harder, and in this case provides a foundation for some of the funkiest bass lines and electric piano playing one might ever wish to dig into. The feel this time round's as much jazz as funk, and names like Joe Sample, Thom Bell, and Gamble and Huff seem to naturally pop up when Duke's timeless music blissfully unspools. The B-side tracks clearly highlight the contrasts in his music. On the one hand, there's the percussion-heavy dynamo “Eclipse,” which combines a feverish, Latin-tinged feel and an intricate, off-beat lead melody; on the other, there's “Night Fall,” a pitter-pattering slice of futuristic ambient-electro whose gaze is fixed squarely upon the emerald galaxy beyond. Duke's roots obviously run deep, and traces of soul, latin, disco, electro, funk, and, of course, house music thread themselves throughout this fine EP's material.