I’m a bit annoyed. Ok, I admit, I spent all night producing Schlager-techno in a foolish and utterly misguided attempt to get rich – but that’s not it. I’m annoyed because I spent a lot of money on tunes whose promising 90 second previews mostly turned out unfulfilled pledges [-most of them not reviewed below-]. Now don’t get me wrong: it’s not the loss of money that’s bothering me (-gonna be rich soon anyway-), it’s the loss of music. So I cannot but return to this vital questions: Why is it that so few people seem to have a sense -or even care- for progression and cohesion within a tune? Why is it that noone notices if a half-finished intro has got nothing to do at all with the main part? Why does a big drop seem to outweigh all structural inconveniences and a mere repetition of two bars results in overall enthusiasm? Why is even the weakest accident of a bass praised as if it was a new Shellshock? And, this above all, why does noone seem to bother?
I know, piling question upon question before thee, gentle reader, is not an answer. But as we’ll now proceed to this week’s crème de la crème-selection and gaze together in amazement not only at what is, but at what could have been, I hope you will eventually side with my cause and criticism, for they are rooted in deep respect and love for the music. Nevertheless, criticise I must. Because frankly: who else does?
According to my outlined mood, we begin quite angry with Tanas, who supplies two incredibly dense and compact tracks on his new single on Brain Network Recordings: I Surrender starts with a tense string-line and cinematic atmosphere, but quickly resolves into a brutal interplay of bashing drums and gritty vintage neuro-bass. Taking neither risks nor prisoners, the man from Vyshgorod despises traditional structures and thus dissolves the first main part after only 40 bars – unfortunately, this is as much a novelty as it is accountable to the disoriented setting of the bass itself, whose anger-driven might alone is rather insufficient in keeping up tension and interest. In fact, the whole song’s hyper-compressed roar can’t make up for its virtual emptiness and would likely have been a better skeleton than body. The flip however, Synthesis, shows Tanas as the promising neurofunk-producer I consider him to be and tells a gripping short story of groove, lovely bass-gnarls and a sleepy submarine. The only thing really missing is -again- a B-part; not for the sake of conventionality, but for the good of all those left alone dancing to a promise not yet redeemed.
Tanas – I Surrender / Synthesis (Brain Network Recordings)
One of those aforementioned intro-cases is Detail’s Exhaustion, an elaborate adventure ride with frisky subbass, freaky sound-stabs, crisp drums and an intro and middle part so far from the actual tune that if you’d happen to catch it on radio you’d involuntarily start tweaking the dials in search of the frequency you apparently just lost. But groove beats comprehension, and so my pleas vanish once more, swallowed by a drop and wobbled into oblivion. Resonance on the other side omits this problem by omitting an intro, letting its plain twostep pattern simply roll into a catchy jigsaw of sounds where delays slide down subbasses while the croaking bass continually seems to shrug its shoulders in a nice and innocent gesture of ‘Why not?’. Replete with detail as the young Ukrainian producer’s and keen amateur health and fashion photographer’s appellative suggests, this single is not only an expansion of Commercial Suicide’s style-guide to dance music, but a more than auspicious prospect of things to come. Repercussions guaranteed.
Detail – Exhaustion / Resonance (Commercial Suicide)
Concerning coherence, there’s no way round Ruffhouse these days. So if you are a friend of dark and minimal drum & bass (or have grown to be with their previous output), rejoice! as Cooper, Vega and Pessimist release their fourth single on Ingredients. Starting with Strangers, the trio continues to pursue its excellent blend of techno and atmosphere, drive and bass: equipped with a paramount sense for movement and a genuine mystic vein, the six-and-a-half minutes roll by with the bewildering and yet fascinating ease of a sonic supertanker in unknown waters’ morning fog, becoming one enormous wave of ever changing embellishment, ponderous and profound. The other track, The Domino Effect, is not quite as stimulating to the average poet and aficionado of bass music and mostly dwells on huge reverbs, occasional delays and scapes of oriental eeriness that amass to a considerable but not fully rewarding build-up. So if you seek to strengthen your set with some decent mid-term hypnosis, you might as well play Domino. But in case you are just looking for giant build-ups, how about this classic?
Ruffhouse – Strangers / The Domino Effect (Ingredients)
In case you like that Ruffhouse sound but would rather support ze Germans, you may now officially purchase the debut of Berlin duo Stephan Albrecht and Hardy Schulz from Protect Audio. Survey is the chosen alias for their output, Grid Sheet the hallmark of their sound: sinister, thrilling, and -considering not only the screams in the first and the weird knocks in the second part- thoroughly disturbing. The occasional choir stabs with it resemblance to Neosignal’s My Arae add a distinct Teutonic flavour to these psychotic proceedings while the scruffy basses resonate lazily upon a rhythm almost completely stripped of snares: all in all Grid Sheet is a first class roller. The subsequent and stylistically more superficial All in All at first hits you with a strange harmonic incompatibility of intro and main part (-speaking of which…-) before progressing into the sonic representation of a dog running in circles and biting its tail: at first it will even make you draw your mobile, but as the play continues, there’s really nowhere it will go. So life goes on, and All in All remains a surfeited yet a little shallow endeavour of big bass and broken dreams. Survey however stands as name to watch.
Survey – Grid Sheet / All in All (Protect Audio)
Out last item is the second single from the Upbeats’ forthcoming album on Noisia’s Vision label. Now that alone should actually suffice, but since the rather shallow Diffused I have grown wary of the New Zealander’s trustworthiness – a rather pointless precaution, as Beyond Reality quickly unfolds all of the Upbeats’ qualities in a manner that is astonishing to the point it even gets a little frightening: powerful drums, lots of space for the mighty sub, superb overall progression and a main bass truly worth the Nikola Tesla-Award for Special Achievements in Taming Electricity. Wear it well.
The Upbeats – Beyond Reality (Vision Recordings)
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