Record of the day… Duncan Gray/Promise

Duncan Gray photo1

Artist: Duncan Gray

Title:  Promise EP

Label: Rock to the Beat Records

Release: 24th August

Cat. No. RTTB020

Rock to the Beat Records welcome a dark disco talent to the ranks with their 20th EP: Promise is a fine five track affair with three standout originals from Duncan Gray and remixes from Lokier and Steve Ekman.

Gray had a recent fine outing on none other than Andrew Weatherall’s vinyl only, machine sounds loving Bird Scarer label earlier in the year. Duncan is actually something of a vet who has been crafting his shadowy sounds for years now, mostly on labels like his own Tici Taci, as well as Black Russian and Salt Hill.

Up first, ‘Promise’ is a slow, chugging track with reverb heavy bass and coarse drum claps. Bleepy melodies and scraping pads all add to the dark sense of groove. Remixing is Steve Ekman, the founder and manager of Rock to the Beat. His version is a little more energetic and elastic, with flabby bass and more melodies all layered into this most trippy and moody disco cut.

‘Copper Bolt’ marries more codeine paced drums to slithering, zithering arps that extend out into a reflective night sky. It’s cosmic and psychedelic in all the right ways and comes with a remix from Mexico City lady Lokier, who has ties with labels like La Dame Noir amongst others. Her version is more direct and driven, with warped bass tones and dark sine waves wrapping round stiff drums. Icy vocal textures also echo about in the mix and ensure it is a truly tantalising affair.

The final original is ‘Actor,’ which is full of grubby, bubbling bass, smeared pads and industrial tension as well as a forbidding sense of post apocalyptic disco dazzle. This is an expert package of darkened disco for back room dance floors everywhere.


1. Promise

2. Copper Bolt

3. Actor

4. Copper Bolt (Lokier remix)

5. Promise (Steve Ekman remix)

Describe the record in five words

Doof. Beouw. Fizz. Tshack. Boop.

What is it about the record that will appeal to the fans?

Variety, I should think. The originals are quite distinct from one another and the remixes are very cool reinterpretations so there should be something for everyone who likes a bit of slow slinkiness.

How does it differ from your last release?

My last release was a 4 track EP for Bird Scarer which had no remixes. Musically Promise is related to the Bird Scarer EP as it was created at the same time. Actor uses some quite unfashionable synths played live over a cheeky chunk of dark house – that organ bass is nailed to 1994 – and Copper Bolt has guitars which put it in a different sonic space.

What was the inspiration for this release?

The title track Promise was an exercise in limitation. The whole thing was done with a Korg Electribe (the old red one), I didn’t allow myself any other hardware or plug-ins other than a touch of reverb.The title comes from various promises I’ve made to other labels – some of which are yet to be fulfilled…

If you had the chance to play it in any club, which would it be?

La Dame Noir Dancing in Marseille.

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