[The Guardian, 1998]
HERE'S what I know about Deep Dish. Deep Dish are a house/garage act from Washington DC. There are two of them. No photos. I suspect shaved heads and chin beards may be involved, perhaps even moustaches. Fairly typical “I'm a DJ” guys, I wouldn't be surprised. Funny how heartthrob types almost never become faceless dance maestros. Is there a causal link between ugliness and club music? Maybe if all men looked like Boyzone, all their bands would sound like Boyzone. Nobody would do stuff like the Deep Dish mix of De Lacy's Hideaway, and frankly, we'd be screwed.
Nothing against Boyzone in particular; it's just that Hideaway is one of the best singles of the Nineties and it was Deep Dish who made it that way. Their idea of garage has pulled so far away from the now customary caterwauling histrionics that you can barely see their tail-lights. It's as if they went back to the days of deep house and then completely re-wrote the last few years.
The result is a cool, lustrous sound with a curiously old-fashioned glamour to it, like the night-time shots in early technicolour romances. Christ knows dance music could do with a little genuine glamour. Six-foot blokes got up in micro-skirts and corsets just don't cut it. Especially when you can see the stubble through their pancake.
Deep Dish haven't just steered garage away from its camper excesses, they're restored its sense of calm. The music on Junk Science is upbeat but relaxing. You could, I suppose, argue that it's garage for sofa-bound domesticates. That suits me just fine. And it has got Everything But The Girl on it. I don't know what it is about Everything But The Girl. Normally they make me choke on my cocoa. But fix them up with Massive Attack, Todd Terry or Deep Dish and suddenly I no longer want to use one of them as a mallet to bludgeon the other into slurry.
Their track, which is going to be huge and deserved hit, is called The Future Of The Future. Those Deep Dish boys seem to have a little problem with time, concepts of, dealing with. “Our future is in our past and our past is our present,” they assert. “We must now make the present our future.” Well dog my cats, there's a plan. Lucky thing the record's so good, really. Otherwise they'd just be talking gibberish to an uncaring world.
They get a little more focused on Mohammad Is Jesus, which is a lovely thought but may not play too well down at the local mosque. “Mohammad is Jesus is Buddha is love,” sings the nice man who does their vocals. I do hope they're right. It's a very pretty song. Junk Science is stuffed full of pretty songs, even the instrumentals. In fact, some of the instrumentals aren't just pretty, they're outright luscious. Deep Dish's music has all the melody and all the resonance that house once promised. That was before part of it veered off into terse functionalism. Then another bit saddled itself with those hysterical gospel-technique vocals (the dance equivalent of an Yngwie J Malmsteen guitar solo). Meanwhile the rest of it got bogged down in puritanical orthodoxy. Deep Dish have arrived to claim it back for us, for the little people, the folks who can remember a time when good music was popular and popular music was good. Come to think of it, that would be now.
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