No one has ever found wit (let alone reason) to question the power and reliability of German engines; yet only few have known that the greatest assets of these technical marvels actually lie within sound. But due to another two German engineers’ tireless efforts, this fruitful insight can finally be experienced by all people with a little taste for progression, astonishment and bass. So fasten your seat belts – Phace and Misanthrop present their new Motor EP.
The revolutionary concept of locomotion that they follow is as simple as it is convenient: whereas normally a whole symphony of technology (i.e. engine, chassis, wheels, brakes and who knows what) is required to go somewhere, the Neosignal mechanics simply turn you into the vehicle for their quartet of joyrides and drive you wherever it pleases them. The opening title track itself is somewhat of a paradigm for this approach: following their overall concept of simplicity and with a knowing nod to Kraftwerk, Motor’s main proceeding is what must be coined the motor bass, an ascending heavyweight bass mass that -thanks to the duos immense production qualities- is far superior to the often turbid and unclear machinations of likewise intended low ends: It just grabs you and off you go until it all culminates in a climactic interlude of what might be called hyperspace krautrock. The defining part however remains the subtle lunacy and sheer melodic unpredictability, inherent to all tracks branded ‘Phace’ ever since and most apparent in the creepy counterpart stabs of the uplifting bass roar, but present throughout not only the track but most of the EP.
On the flipside of this EP-half we find their eagerly awaited collaboration with Mefjus, Twisted, awaited so eagerly I’ve even heard DJs drop the soundcloud rip, which is of course a far better intention than idea. And to be honest, I kind of had to work my way towards full appreciation of this cornucopia of parts in this track where every morsel of sound vividly twists and turns in thick neurotic agony. But I can thoroughly assure thee, gentle reader, that all efforts of comprehension are rewarded in the end, as the abundance of information turns out a plethora of possibilities, and the excess of rhythm and opulence of melody (again with a distinct psychotic edge) not only equips you with multiple earworms and whistle-along opportunities but a serious sonic blow to the head as well.
The second half of the Motor EP begins with Waveform, a track that has been the subject of some discussion to which I feel obliged to add my humble opinion: Very few people seem to realize that the average amount of tunes released weekly on the far field of drum & bass music is commonly between 250 and 500. Now out of this huge amount of material, around 10 tunes are usually likeable, with a true masterpiece and stand-out track every few weeks or so. Think about it. And then think about the criticism Waveform encountered for its vague (though obvious) similarity with Noisia’s Tryhard. For not only does this notion neglect Waveform’s distinct own features (as well as the producer’s collaborative friendship and therefore vague and supposedly mutual inspiration-situation); it degrades this in all regards outstanding piece of music to a mere replica. And that’s as unjust as is it myopic.
That said, Waveform does at first remind of Tryhard due to its similar rhythm in terms of both drums (including the characteristic snare drum upbeats) and mids. The tune’s ductus however is of a different, less frantic nature, and the whole composition is much more holistic than its blazing but in comparison rather aimless stepbrother: From the fantastic intro onwards, Waveform is one whole ever-evolving piece of purpose, madness and drive; its two sections divided and united by the most elaborate and detailed bridge-part I have heard in years. As to the rest, it’s Neosignal, so there’s really not that much need for saying that the drums are super crisp and punchy, the production pretty unbelievable and the basses über-mighty, let alone the vocoders…
The last item of this probably biggest EP of 2013 is the long-awaited MPD, another genuine masterpiece from the goldsmiths over at Phace and Noisia. The tune is a little like Floating Zero’s funky cousin, centred round the funny basses’ wobble and the immense urge the drums and rolling sub gradually amount over time. MPD remains simple, entertaining and utterly infectious.
In conclusion I can only say: they did it again. Neosignal brightly add another chapter to their thickening volume of masterstrokes and as usual substantiate their position on the utmost forefront of sound. The Motor EP thus unites superior German craftsmanship with a phenomenal knowledge and ability to play the listener’s body chemistry, nay the listener itself with the same seeming ease they treat their synths. Progression is their claim, and progression is definitely what you get with this stunning EP. Or, as they themselves put it: Man, what a ride.
Phace & Misanthrop, Mefjus, Noisia – Motor EP (Neosignal)