Montreal’s Doo crew returns with Smoke Barometer, their first 12” of 2024 that pairs up label regulars DJ Spence and Sentena with Kozz and Sweets of the Night from local acts Tension Nurse and Drainolith. Not sure where or when I first heard of the Doo label? Maybe The Trilogy Tapes blog, or a mix/radio show by Bake or PLO Man? Anyway the general Doo approach - a willingness to explore different tempos, styles and moods across one release; the simple yet distinctive centre label text spiraling out unpredictably across each 12”; their refreshingly low-key online presence (no Instagram woof!) - has had me hooked from their earliest drops.

“Designed for parties and the people who play them. Parties that take place at any time of day” was the tagline that came with the first Doo 12” from Spence and Sentena’s SnP 500 project and has remained core to their vibe ever since. A lot of Doo cuts sound like they’re made by DJs who produce music and appreciate the fine art of trippy, freewheeling, down tempo b-sides from music’s past and want the label to keep that tradition alive for current ears and future diggers. There are also plenty of certified dancefloor bullets in the Doo discography; see the gurning, frantic Sound Streamisms of last year’s DJ Spence’s Fan Needed or 2020 Doctors Pepper cut ‘Sgt Pepper.’

Described as a “no tempo/down tempo record,” the six tracks on Smoke Barometer offer lots of fun if you like that sort of thing. But first, the hidden B3 weapon from the unknown Ancient. ‘The McGurk Effect’ is the closest thing here to a club track. A weird, dubbed-out 4-minute house tool where clattering, knackered drum patterns and spiraling sirens are glued together by a titular vocal sample seemingly pulled from a YouTube tutorial that’s been heavily processed and fed greedily through the mangler. It sounds a bit like Maurice Fulton cooking up some Syclops in the studio with the mixer channel labelled ‘Big Fuck Off Mutant Bass Lines’ absent-mindedly muted. Eager to explore this one pitched up/pitched down!

There are three tracks that could bluntly be called beat down. Two come from Kozz collaborating with both Sentena and DJ Spence. “Hochelag Sundayz” from Kozz and Sentena is a cosmic-leaning stargazer; no real beat to grip on to, just splashes of cymbal and glitchy micro-samples underpinned by glassy chords. Spence and Kozz’s ‘Kosmo's Broken Audio’ is more inward looking, pairing off scuffed shakers and hi-hats against shards of machine funk feedback. There’s a real nice way to how a groove is gradually teased out from these sparse elements. Sweets of the Night and Sentena’s ‘Sq Moon’ rounds out the beatdowners and is perhaps the most musically playful, and whisper it quietly, balearic, cut here. Someone idly strums a guitar whilst icily dramatic keys form over MPC beats and a foggy, barely perceptible melodic backdrop.

Which leaves two sort-of-ambient ‘no-tempo’ tracks that I won’t describe here, but both fall smartly into the category of those 12” cuts you initially gloss over/skip the needle on but will probably revisit months/years later and discover they make perfect sense pulling out for a radio show/day party/after party. These are the best records no?

Smoke Barometer is out now on Doo and available on Bandcamp.