Dirty South drips “Darko” honey

“Darko” is Dirty South’s fourth album and his second album release this year. After twelve years of following the artist, he remains the man of progressive house. In fact, Dirty South is one of the few progressive house artists from the mid-2000s that continues to develop and push the genre forward.

“Progressive” can leave a bad taste in the mouth for those who remember the dark ages of house (2013-2016). Artists within the genre failed to keep creating and started replicating. The list of sell-outs is far longer than those who have worked hard to develop new tastes and sounds, but there are some steadfast survivors. Dirty South is one of them

A pioneer who continues to show us what music can be, his music goes down like honey. Sticky, savory, and sweet, it takes time to swallow, but the whole experience is satisfying and complete.

He has a unique “voice” that he’s been able to maintain since he started in 2006. Which is wild, because despite how much progress has been made, the sound today is still very much, distinctly Dirty South.

He continues to use male vocal artists, which for progressive house is unusual. He also holds a compositional etiquette. He draws us in, builds intensity, and plays with nuances of relief. He does this musical story-telling well, and with his own signature spin.

What’s progressed is the actual sound. His first album was released in 2013, and competition in the progressive space was intense. Nearly all progressive songs seemed “forced” with piano-happy melodies, consistent bass-in-your-face beats, and drastic drops. But what Dirty South has done with “Darko” five years later is transition to much smoother peaks and valleys. The builds are much more subtle, making the music more palatable, and perhaps more relatable. Not every moment of life will be “the greatest time of your life” so why should music reinforce that idea? It’s almost as if the dark ages were trying to do just that – convince fans of an eternal high with high-pitched song after song, until it all just…died.

So I admire this approach and am eager to see what direction DS takes in the upcoming years. He recognized when enough “highs” were enough, and developed something more from his own voice. “Darko” is euphoric, rhythmic, and unpretentious. It’s a simple pleasure album. That’s why I say Dirty South has made honey. Just like in life, at the end of the day, it’s the simple pleasures we want, and this cool, thickness that runs down our throats when we listen meets that satisfaction.

The only criticism I have is that the new album is short. There’s only 8 tracks, averaging 5 min long. And although, “Corda” is a great closer, it certainly left listeners wanting more.

What I would like to see for Dirty South in the upcoming years is wider recognition to support his musical ambition. It comes as a poignant truth that those artists who took a moment to evaluate music, when house music exploded in a bad way, have created for themselves a marketing disadvantage. Look at IG today:

  • Kaskade 1.3M followers (sell out)
  • SHM 515K (sell out)
  • Dirty South 172K

Now marketing is a fickle thing, and by no means indicates “the best.” I saw all three of these artists at Ultra 2009, all playing in a small tent, fog-a-blazing and lasers pointing. It was a time when Instagram didn’t exist, and we only had digital cameras and YouTube to reminisce with. These DJs were all equals. In fact, Dirty South was the best (as he played the latest time-slot of the three).

So I admire the artists that shun themselves during the dark ages (i.e. Dirty South, Gabriel & Dresden), knowing that they did what they had to do to preserve their integrity and their art. However, all that time away from the limelight has thwarted their publicity and notoriety. So I encourage all music enthusiasts to be educated. Know about your music. Discover and play because that’s why the music is here…for us to connect. And most importantly, SUPPORT your DJs. They create the art that you want.

And now to support MY DJ – Dirty South. He will be here at the end of the month, and tickets are $20! (You would’ve never seen this price pre-smartphone). No doubt he will play from his new album, and I’m very intrigued to see what kind of set he brings. Will it vary from the June night-time swim at Hyde? I’m curious. Keep us guessing DS and you will be the Carl Cox of Progressive. <3

New “Darko” album – Click here

Personal playlist – Click here

2 Comments on “Dirty South drips “Darko” honey”

    • Thank you!! It feels good to put these thoughts into words. As for your curiousity, I list upcoming events on my blog. Choose one and I’ll meet you there! 🙂