CamelPhat – ‘Dark Matter’ review: stadium-ready indie-dance bangers (now we just need the stadiums)

The Grammy-nominated UK production duo call upon Noel Gallagher, Jake Bugg, Florence Welch and Foals' Yannis Philippakis for their massive debut

10 years ago, the idea of Noel Gallagher featuring on a tech-house track would likely have been deemed sacrilegious by Britpop purists. But with genre definitions becoming increasingly blurry, his rave-ready team up with UK DJ/production duo CamelPhat – having been “blown away” by their inescapable 2017 Ibiza anthem ‘Cola’ – is a sign of the times. An optimistic stadium-sized banger, ‘Not Over Yet’ pairs Noel’s timely call for action (“We’ve tried to find a cure / We need it more and more / And the world won’t wait for another day”) with Dave Whelan and Mike Di Scala’s punchy electronic synths.

Having risen to the top of the dance music world with their brand of emotive yet pumping club and festival crossover hits (summer-soundtracking Au/Ra collaboration ‘Panic Room’ dominated daytime radio playlists in 2018), the odd-on-paper Noel collaboration, following the singles ‘Be Someone’ (featuring Jake Bugg) and ‘Hypercolour’ (with Foals‘ Yannis Philippakis), bridges the gap between indie, house and techno. This should appeal to an entirely new audience for the dance duo.

“We just wanted to do something a little bit different,” they told NME earlier this year, teasing their album is “not all dance music”. It’s this diverse fusion of sounds that turns ‘Dark Matter’ into more than just a 90-minute pre-drinks party playlist. There’s pumping techno (‘Witching Hour’), psychedelic trips (‘Rabbit Hole’ and ‘Breathe’), grooving house (‘Expect Nothing’) disco-infused pop (‘Keep Movin’, with Skream and Max Milner) and melodic soundscapes (‘For A Feeling’, with ARTBAT & Rhodes). Meanwhile the likes of ‘Spektrum’, ‘Inbetween The Lines’ and brooding Maverick Sabre-collaboration ‘Reaction’ transform the 21-track collection into an impressively varied journey of atmospheric emotive electronica.

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The Liverpool lads also deserve credit for using their platform to spotlight rising artists across multiple genres. Eerie opener ‘Blackbirds’ gives Leicester singer Leo Stannard a chance to shine, while Lancashire up-comer Lowes layers a mesmerising vocal over ‘Wildfire’’s vinyl crackles and dusty piano chords. The classical strings of Christoph-collaboration ‘Phantoms’ add depth to CamelPhat’s brooding-build-up formula. And they somehow resist the urge to let the drop hit on the patiently romantic ‘Carry Me Away’, which fuses light cymbal taps and tinkling piano keys with singer Jem Cooke’s soulful tone.

With so many undeniable anthems primed to do serious damage when the time comes (in an alternative festival-filled reality, it’s easy to picture thousands of ravers belting out ‘Easier’s massive Florence Welch-penned chorus in a huge field), CamelPhat have proved why they are one of the biggest names in dance music – and now indie, too. Next year’s headline gig at Wembley Arena will be a walk in the park for these tech-house titans.

Details

Release date: October 30

Record label: Sony

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