Disclosure: what’s the secret?Disclosure is becoming one of the leading names in house. But what is their secret?
The young duo from the UK makes tracks that are pulling (deep)house into a new dimension. Their name is often mentioned by our dj and producer students.
So let’s take a closer look at what makes their tracks stand out by looking into them from our Big Four Producer perspective.
Disclosure has a very clear idea on their tracks.
You could consider it a mix of older UK genres like 2-Step, UK-garage and Jackin’ House grooves using deep-house synths and vocals. They choose to collaborate with several vocalists, ranging from talents like Sam Smith (Latch) and now also with well known artists like Usher and Mary J Blige.
A lot of the tracks are playable in clubs and their choice of instruments is very consistent. The energy level of their tracks also is pretty constant, ranging from 40% to about 70% on a deephouse scale. The tempos of their tracks are between 115 and 135.
How do they produce their tracks? Their sound is 100% synthesized.
Though people are impressed by their fresh sounding productions there is really nothing revolutionary about the sounds themselves. They are actually quite retro. The stabs they use can be build in two minutes using a square wave bass sound (filtered) and a Juno (or other analog synth) retro synth opening and closing filters during tracks.
The chords they use are also mostly deephouse standard, but the settings of the chords do vary. They consist mostly of minor and major 7th chords using 3 or 4 chords in one track.
Rhythmwise they use Jackin' House beats, or 2-Step like beats, featuring a four to the floor kickdrum, hi-hats and claps.
So where is the magical element that makes their tracks sound so good? It is in two of the most important elements in great productions: the less is more concept, and vocalist with a distinct sound that sing well shaped melodies.
If you count how many stems they use per track you will not come further than a bassline and synth stabs plus an occasional arpeggiated sound and a vocal.
Often, the bassline and stabs play at the same time. Sometimes the bassline and the vocal do the same, like in ‘Holding On’.
The placement of the stabs on the rhythm provides even more groovyness and creates danceability.
The final element that takes these songs to another level is the vocal. The combinations of catchy phrases and original and high quality vocalist makes the tracks stand out.
Disclosure uses very common timeline developments, mostly consisting of blocks of 32 beats.
Disclosure’s tracks sound great because of the space they give their instruments.
The main synth layer often consists of a square wave bass that complements the stabs. The mixes are mastered compact and compression has been added to the amount that the tracks do well on dancefloors.
Same goes for EQ’ing, more high and lows then mid in the mastering.
We are very happy Disclosure pulls house music to the smoother sounds we heard so rarely during the reign of King-Guetta and the dominance of stop-and-go filled EDM with the one-dimensional purpose to generate as much energy as possible.
Disclosure understands the importance of ‘less is more’ and combines that with a smooth and friendly-to-the-ear sound. Their tracks are groovy, have an emotional layer because of the chords they use and stand out because of good vocalists that sing original melodies.
By Roeland Meijs, DJ School Amsterdam
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If you want to produce tracks using Disclosure as inspiration, you are more than welcome to start off with an Intro Lesson Producer.
Want to know more? Watch the amazing video linked in the picture on top of this article!