Two years on from their widely acclaimed third album, This Bit of Earth, Greg Dowling and Shane Johnson are back on the Go Deep label with their latest long player. What I Mean By Beautiful touches on the previous collection’s themes of upheaval and dislocation, digging through the lost and found of modern life and always looking for light in dark places.
The album marks something of a return to the duo’s house music roots, with a four-to-the-floor foundation underpinning many of the eleven tracks. It exudes a warm, natural sound, where samples sit with modular synths, programmed drums with live loops, and quirky plugins with obscure outboard gear.
Opening track, ‘I Float in the Clouds’, sets a dramatic tone with intricately interwoven guitar and keyboard lines, fragmented, spectral vocals and deep, melodic bass. Tempos range widely throughout the record, from the loose, low-slung grooves of ‘So They Were Changed’ and ‘High Wire’, to the infectious, mid-paced title track, to the intense house workouts of ‘You Came Into My Life’ and ‘All In Everything’. Greg and Shane’s long established dub leanings are also in evidence, especially on the slow motion churn of ‘Low Tide Dub’ and spacious atmospherics of ‘South Gate Step’. The album closes on an open and optimistic note with the soothing pads and deep electronic pulse of ‘Be Brave’, the result of a collaborative project with author Lisa McInerney and actor, Hillary Rose.