- Having turned plenty of heads with singles on his own Feel Music and on Francois K.'s Wave Music, among others, Irish producer John Daly offers up Sea & Sky, which gathers up his best 12-inch material as well as three new tunes to showcase his range of production skills. While past references to auteurs like Moodymann are on the mark, this full-length makes its clear that tagging Daly as deep house only covers about half of what he's up to. The title Sea & Sky nails Daly's breadth of style—he's equally at home plumbing oceanic depths as he is soaring through the atmosphere. Catching him in ample album form feels like you're peeping a special house music episode of Planet Earth.
Daly's forte lies in structure: he often utilizes familiar palettes and lays them on the table early on, keeping you hooked by means of sinusoidal ebbs and flows. His minimal dynamism emphasizes the topographical character of dance music, how it can unfold into peaks and valleys, or coast along the shoreline before heading for the horizon. Put in genre terms, Daly's most substantial twist on the classic deep house style is an infusion of spacey cosmic/kraut hypnosis—you can see here how he's navigating between Francois K. on the one hand and Lindstrom on the other. It's a strong example of how indecision, usually such a bane in real life, can fuel artistic creativity: the artist's task is not decision so much as commitment, commitment even to indecision: if you're not going to pick one path over another, then you have to resolutely explore the terrain that opens between them.
Sea & Sky is buoyed by a number of groove-heavy bangers, like the sensual, pulsing "Do It" and the expansive "Freak Out or Get Out," as well as "Monsoon," a stand-out tune that derives its force from a slight keyboard figure melting over a swarm of stereo-echoed thunder-toms. Plenty of room has also been cleared for chill-out vibes: check the near-beatless, arpeggiated whirlwind of "Exp3," or "Wasteland," the epic disco sonata which serves as the album closer and which wouldn't be out of place in a Prins Thomas set.
The topographical fluidity of Daly's production style is mirrored in the album's smoothly undulating track flow. The movement from "Gabriel" to "In the Stars" exemplifies how Daly navigates the poles of disco and house by surfing them as regions of an unbroken continuum. Here digital high-freq synth flutter acts as the sonic thread that strings the jams together, so that when the former's downtempo oceanside disco swagger comes to an end and the latter's house throb begins to build, it feels delightfully organic and invigorating, yet another segment of a line of flight sailing free from telos or terminus.
01. Do It (Album Edit)
02. In the Stars (Alt Mix)
03. The Wasteland, Sea and Sky
04. Solar Lights
05. Atlantis (Deep Sea Dub)
07. Exp 3 (aka 2 Sequencers Are Better Than One)
08. Freak Out or Get Out
09. Time Again