12 Days Of 2017 | 012: The Duchess


LSD Pt. 1 – Radius

A lot of people are out here making “house music” these days BUT, lucky for you and i – desperately tryna find some shred of authenticity in this otherwise pretty bleak sonicscape – there are a few Artists who have taken it upon themselves to come out of their deep, magical safe-havens to share some of their Truth. Enter Sonny Daze – founder & owner of Division 81 Records. With him rides producer and performer, Radius. Both hail from the Southside of Chicago but are currently wandering the globe, spreading The Message to those fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time. Daze & Radius met some 12 years ago in their hometown through a mutual friend. Radius was on the circuit performing his beats and, prior to them meeting in-person, Daze was a great admirer of his creative work and human spirit. Fast-forward to Berlin, 2015, and the two agreed to collaborate on what was to be the first Division 81 release. The creative integrity of this record is indicative of how these two artists first came up, and have continued to flourish as part of the Underground communities in Chicago, New York, Berlin and beyond. If you have somehow missed this movement to-date, here is your chance to get firmly acquainted and own a piece of history.

On the internet, LSD Pt. 1 has been categorized as a Deep House record but, over a lengthy phone call, Daze expressed how vital it was to him that this first release encompass all the elements of music that merged to form what we laymen now know as “House”. House isn’t just about a quantized kick-drum, an incessant hi-hat and some basic chord loops – it’s about hip-hop, funk, soul, early experimentations with new technology, and then on through to techno. A Division 81 offering like this one begs us to remember the aforementioned as the feelings, people, parties, raw spaces and mistakes made with unfamiliar devices that they really were, rather than as the sterilized genres they have come to be labeled as on the internet. Exemplary of this, Radius’ opening track, ‘Sunshiiiiiine’, weaves a beloved Roy Ayers sample into a satisfying and infectious hip-hop beat – slapping life back into tired ears; inducing involuntary neck-snaps. It rocks like 98bpm, but in reality rides alongside most of our house ‘n’ techno at 120bpm and up.

Daze also wanted this debut D81 release to embody the honest and seemingly hap-hazard nature of the first house records that came out in the 80s and early 90s. His experience of going out to parties and dancing in clubs throughout these two decades confidently directs tracks like ‘Egypt What’s Up’: its progression simulates the club environment of all our wildest dreams, and at times lulls us into a meditative state – coming in and out of itself, “like smoke filling up a dark, warm room, lit up and hidden again under flashing lights”. As executive producer of this entire release, Daze’s lack of formal training in audio engineering and production ensured the preservation of these raw elements. He taught himself how to play and program every instrument and piece of software to produce the 6 different tracks – it’s a style of production that can not be taught: you can’t recreate raw; can’t regurgitate grit; and you definitely can not fake honest Lo-Fi.

Radius performs in much the same way as Daze produces – all of his creations on this release were chosen from a series of single-takes that he performed live. It is an unorthodox method of production, but with great risk comes great reward – the spontaneity and unexpected twists in every piece are a direct product of this in-the-moment method of production. Exemplary of this technique; the snares, synths and baselines of ‘Moonsets’ duck in and out of the track’s foundations, whilst a haunting vocal echoes through one ear and out the other. It is a small miracle that further mastering of this EP did not alter the original productions beyond recognition, but instead served to enhance their essential elements whilst retaining the overall authenticity – all thanks to Dietrich Schoneman’s thoughtful post-production.

It is a relief whenever music like this can be discovered and heard; rich in dynamic range, soaked in real lived experience. It stands head and shoulders above the average ableton-choked offerings that have flooded both the physical and digital markets. It insists that we turn it up loud, turn off the lights, and drown out all other noise. On a personal note, I strongly encourage all of you out there who, like me, want to support the next wave of real underground talent, and want to play authentically GOOD records at your parties, instead of further funding trust fund babies flailing around helplessly with a bunch of auctioned-off MPCs and yawn-inducing plug-ins. Start the new year as you intend to finish it and get your grimy mitts on this release – you’ll thank yourself later.

Purchase // Listen // Look // Learn

This record was mixed, mastered and pressed up in New York.
All tracks written, performed, produced: Radius*
Executive Producer: Sonny Daze
Mastering: Dietrich Schoneman of Complete Mastering
Pressing: Brooklyn Vinyl Works
Distribution: Second Hand Records, NYC
Cover Art: Shelby Stone (collage) & Kamal Collins (graphic design)

*’Egypt What’s Up’ & ‘Know Self (D81 Re-Werk)’ produced by Sonny Daze, Co-produced by Radius
‘Know Self (D81 Re-Werk)’ features keys by The Twilite Tone
‘Know Self’ features vocals by Lailah Reich

Check out The Duchess‘ fantastic mix recorded for us last summer.


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