Cardiff duo, Darkhouse Family return to First Word with debut LP, The Offering

A Solid Gold snippet and a journey into sound via Don Leisure’s Shaboo LP served to evoke a sonic palette you perhaps didn’t even know you had. In the past year, the Cardiff duo have been quietly crafting their aptly named debut album, The Offering – a cosmic melange of past, present and future ideas that have come to fruition over a series of collaborative sessions.

Earl Jeffers and Don Leisure are two producers revered by innate musical backgrounds. Having previously released under their respective monikers, Metabeats and Jamal, their past experience of habitually dipping in and out of anything between the realms of 115 and 160bpm has culminated in the authentic fusion of a multitude of sounds, felt through this album in its entirety.

’We must begin to view our musical compositions as vessels, through which concerts become conscious conversations and our records, repositories of positive images. To do this we must always understand that our work must be one, collective. Two, functional. Three, committing.’

What can often be a playful form of sampling becomes something that not only holds weight throughout this record; the opening statement rings true and resonates with the listener throughout The Offering. An impeccably detailed beat, the title track sees the duo welcoming a more collaborative approach from the first note, jazz-funk sensibilities layered over bass-heavy key and drum chord arrangements make way for spontaneous harmonies over complex drum patterns towards the outro.

Cardiff’s Jessy Allen and Daf Davies take centre stage on Radiate, caramel vocals over a lo-fi sample wind into the bridge where Davies’ aptitude on drums and Allen’s vocal range truly become apparent. Sounds of South London can be felt through Heart of Medina where the duo enlisted the artistry of keyboardist, Kamaal Williams (Henry Wu). A wash of infectious structure in a context where rhythmic improvisation often lays the basis, results in a seamless groove injecting warm neo-soul textures into the record.

Another World sees amazing newcomer, Esther taking the reigns on a heavily vocalised melody, slow-burning strings from Jonathan Powell met with the dulcet tones of the Cardiff vocalist both transfix and gently lull the listener before being met with a swift change-up in The Accession. A fitting cut for the narrative of this LP, delicate percussion and soft strings looped over the ever-present work of drummer, Davies’ almost listens like an extended interlude to whatever may be coming next for the project..

The end result is a product saturated with an assortment of different eras, sounds and skills, weaving between genres to create something that is ultimately impossible to characterise to one type of sound.  While it wouldn’t be surprising to draw comparisons to Moses Boyd, Ruby Rushton and often the sensuality of a Hiatus Kaiyote instrumental – I think it’s safe to say the South Wales duo are coming through with their own unparalleled formula this year.

‘The Offering’ is released on November 24th via First Word Records. Pre-order below.
You can catch DHF playing all night long at Blue Honey Night Café that evening.

Words by @rhimarilou