Evocative of the trance-like melodies of The xx, London-based three-piece Dems tantalize us with their new single ‘Canvas World’. Dan Moss, David Gardener and Duncan Mann typically lay Moss’ vocals over complex pieces of artistry, but the latest single adds a guest lead vocal from guest singer Claudie. Strong and clear, she adds a depth to the melancholy Dems sound anchoring it. The added electronic stuttering only accentuates her rich voice, pulling it back and forth between ballad and electronic. The blend of horns, syncopated percussion and the new voice make it a dichotomous, but thoroughly enjoyable track.
Earlier this year they made two other songs available for free download. ‘Cristobel’ is a bit bubbly, like the similarly named sparkling aperitif. Sampled and wrapped round and round it deepens with repeated listens. The trio also takes pride in self-producing their videos, with Gardner taking the lead vision. Consequently, ‘Desire’ is both aurally and visually compelling. Opening with a staccato violin, it then falls back into dreamy electronic pop with a tantalizing heartbeat running through it. Several years back, the ‘House’ EP was released. It has a rougher sound but the intent of what Dems are doing has carried through to present.
Don’t confuse these chaps with the French DJ of the same name (and with several albums). These boys offer up an accessible, melodic groove that is not strictly dance music. With just a handful of songs that have been released, we should hear more from this effervescent trio in 2014 as they make their American debut at Austin’s SXSW in April. The perfect Austin set-up for them would be on one of the late showcases when the Texas heat has abated, the stars are high, and the assembled crowd is open to having their minds expanded. Not a frenzied dance party by any stretch, but a gentle pulsing way to be sent off into the night.