Now this is how you release an album: no advanced notice, no press leaks other than some shaky Glastonbury footage of a DJ set — just a link and a brief overview on the day of and it’s out there.
But make no mistake — there is a marketing campaign behind everything Disclosure does, and if you don’t see it that means it’s working as intended. There are talking points related to Alchemy, the new album from Disclosure, and they are directly related to the simple, no-bullshit approach to the release.
It’s their first album with no featured performers and, they say, no samples. The first statement is probably meant to point at a spot in the underground where they think this album belongs, and away from the pop stars Disclosure has been working with (I mean other than themselves).
The second point about samples is to clarify just which spot in the underground they occupy — no, not THAT underground, but this one over here, some place where people dwell that assign some meaning to whether a record nicked a TSOP lick off of The Stylistics’ “Hurry Up This Way Again” or generated it themselves. Certifying your album “sample-free” — is that something we’re doing now? Three decades after MAW did it all live? Everyone’s entitled to make music the way they want, but the quantity of samples in an electronic music track seems like something that the average listener and dancer doesn’t and shouldn’t ever care about. Hipsterism is dead, but we’re just as obsessed about dumb shit as ever. I can imagine this being a thing we do now, with copycat producers dropping digital stickers on album art testifying to their music being 99% sample-free. Perhaps we can even form a governing body for sampleless house certification — a council of dudes who “love dance music but don’t fucking dance” and can sniff out any contraband samples some dishonest producer tries to smuggle into their music and taint the purity of the mix.
Samplelessness aside, Disclosure’s fourth album sees them sort of back where the started, regardless of how they got back here. Fans of Settle will almost surely like this, for mostly the same reasons: it plays well for listening but DJs will love these tracks too (or will once they get or make their own extended mixes.) On Alchemy, Disclosure plays it tight: each track is packed with grooves that race from one 00:00 to the next 00:00. Alchemy is FAST, almost out of breath, uptempo and in a hurry to get somewhere. The styles shift abruptly, from the sort of IDM-oriented breaks familiar to anyone that shopped at a trendy clothing boutique in the early ’00s on “Higher Than Ever Before,” to Colonel Abrams’-esque vocals on “Go The Distance.” Outside of production differences, what’s missing are the anthems. There are no obvious singles on Alchemy, though “Sun Showers,” the strongest track on here, with that heady hi-tech jazz vibe, might be the exception. It’s obviously a deliberate choice to make a different kind of album. The most telling distinction after the release of Alchemy will be the lack of crossover brand promotions that are now a feature of electronic music on this level, with producers and performers and remixers all selected not necessarily on the basis of what their talents bring to the song but what their socials bring to the audience on release day.
But what’s strange about this album is that I feel like I’d heard it even before it dropped. I may have heard it 10 years ago. I feel like I might have also written these words before. Maybe that’s why Disclosure are making albums in different ways, shaking up their process with new approaches (demos were sent back and forth across continents and from brother to brother, as “sketches” that were begun independently or with different co-writers, and then “absorbed” and perfected once they linked up together in London). Maybe they didn’t do it that way because scheduling separated the Disclosure brothers, but to add new stimulus and excitement to something that has become rote or stale — a “job” in the most bullshit sense of the word.
The first time I listened to Alchemy I thought it ran out of steam in the second half of the album. Later I realized that no, it didn’t. I did. Shuffle up the tracks and you get the same results. I hear four or five or six tracks and it’s — “Okay, got it” and you put Disclosure away to listen to something else that is not Disclosure. Maybe this is how we listen to everything now, or just how we listen to Disclosure.
⚪️ Alchemy Tracklisting
Disclosure: Alchemy (Apollo / Digital)
1. Looking For Love (04:50)
2. Simply Won't Do (03:26)
3. Higher Than Ever Before (03:16)
4. A Little Bit (03:29)
5. Go The Distance (04:16)
6. Someday... (00:45)
7. We Were In Love (05:00)
8. Sun Showers (04:34)
9. Purify (02:04)
10. Brown Eyes (02:31)
11. Talk On The Phone (03:26)
⚪️ Disclosure Statement
This record was not submitted as a promo.
5 Mag Issue 208
Out July 2023
WE STILL CALL IT HOUSE: This was originally published in 5 Mag Issue #208 featuring the story of Chicago house music collective 3 Degrees Global, a tribute to DJ Deeon, a cover mix by and profile of Gratts, Detroit vocalist Diviniti, John Davis of the disco’s scariest orchestra, the great vanishing of pirate sites more. Help keep our vibe alive by becoming a member for $2/month and get every issue in your inbox right away!
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