After a thirteen year hiatus, Sydney collective d.i.g. (Directions In Groove) is back with a brand new album, Clearlight. This new relase from the band sees them rediscovering and exploring the rich musical terrain they forged in the early 1990s. At the time d.i.g. first gained popularity, they were a truly welcome antidote to both the mindles, vapid Euro house music that was flooding both radio stations and the charts in this country. In course, they also proved to be a challenging and richly rewarding alternative to the grunge onslaught that took over the world in the early part of that decade.
Kicking off with the deceptively commercial “Strangers Talking”, featuring the lovely vocals of the bands newest member, Laura Stitt, is a beautifully left of centre take on a pop/dance track and an unexpected and lovely way to open the album. Listeners more familiar with d.i.g’s earlier music will feel more comfortable with tracks like “Bassick In Style”, an instrumental that finds the original members of the band rediscovering their sense of musical adventure and groove.
The two worlds of the band’s sound and Stitt’s vocals collide beautifully on the title track, which immediately prompts visions of nightclubs at 3 a.m simply by listening. It also illustrates what made and continues to make d.i.g. such an interesting band on the Australian music front. One hears elements of jazz, funk, electronica and old school soul in what the band do. However, the way everything meshes together is what makes d.i.g. a highly compelling listen and a great band that can bridge both the experimental and commercial sides of music in a way that doesn’t sound souless or too commercial.
Other standouts on this fine album include some of the longer tracks, where the band get to really stretch out and explore their sense of musical terrain and identity to a greater degree. These include the hypnotic “Pythonicity”, which really does possess a gorgeously snaky and swirling quality. With “New Sense”, the band hit the more improvisational, jamming side of their musical character to a really charming result and effect.
Clearlight sees a great band reasserting their relevance in the Australian musical landscape, and makes the listener definitely look forward to where d.i.g. head next on their musical adventures.
– Neil Evans
Clearlight is out now on ABC Music.