Week 46: Essential Releases [November 2014]

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Reviewer Ryan Origin covers some new and exciting D&B releases for mid-November.

BACHELORS OF SCIENCE – DON’T HOLD BACK/CARTIER [CODE RECORDINGS]
San Fransisco has been well-known as a hub for incredible music, and the trio that comprises Bachelors of Science continue that storied lineage with this fantastic release. Don’t Hold Back features vocalist Dylan Germick, and is a taut stepper with plenty of texture for his emotionally rich lyrics to rest upon.

Cartier keeps things withdrawn and floaty, and the soulful vocal sample informs us that “I keep on wondering”. Add in the lush and evocative musical backdrop and you have something reminicent of the finest work from classic Creative Source records.

Turning the A side on it’s head is the “808 Remix” of Don’t Hold Back. A completely fresh rework of the title track, the minimal production and huge bass serves to give the vocals far more emotional impact. Quality Drum & Bass from top to tail. Respect.

What I’m playing: “Don’t Hold Back – 808 Remix”

KIMYAN LAW – COUER CALME LP [BLU MAR TEN]
Combining class and innovation, Kimyan Law is absolutely one of the most exciting new acts on the scene. Opening Coeur Calme up strong is Mortal Life (ft. mm oo), which melds stuttering beats and lush chords into something immediately likable. “Eclairage” features the signature Kimyan Law percussive synth sound that comes off like a music box descending from heaven.

“We are Fish (Kimyan Law Remix)” provides the lush entry point to one of the standout tracks of the album “Daimyo”. Meeting somewhere between Dub Phizix and Photek, the minimal, well-crafted percussion of “Daimyo” allows the nearly out-of-context orchestral strings to stand out in a powerful way. Skulking through the mist, “Ember” is as much textural sound design as it is a piece of D&B.

“Run Ames (Feat. Robert Manos)” is one of the meatier tracks on offer, and his sultry vocals play wonderful counterpoint to the snapping drums. “Vita” is another shining example of Kimyan Law’s deep understanding of harmony, and could serve as the credits theme to a film that is meant to make you misty and contemplative. Back to the edit workout flavors, “Umbra” stands out as something any discerning fan of future beats could throw down at 4 am, where “Copperclock” channels the very emotional best of the heaviest DBridge tracks.

Continuing the minimal, moody steppers, “Blur” does exactly that: smear the lines between what is atmospheric and structured. “Cherry Lane (For Sarah Taisha)” is a wonderful combination of everything else on the album, so she must be a very special person. Ending the trip with “Solange”, we end up in bouncy roots dubstep territory, and I couldn’t think of a more fitting conclusion.

What I’m Playing: “Eclairage” and “Daimyo”

NOON – NOONSHINE EP [BPM]
This newly-minted alias of well-known Croatian producer Filip Motovunski, and the minimal vibes on offer are unique enough to warrant an EP for Germany’s BPM Records. Starting with “Done”, a tightly-wound bit of neurofunk with only the most essential elements making up it’s subtle form. The more upbeat and positive 2-steppin vibes of “Noonshine” offer another take on the minimal funk template.

For me, the next two tracks are the most interesting on offer, as they are both new takes on the now-established new sound of D&B. “Rolling Joints” is a skanking halftime number with glitchy, tiny beats, and an infectious, drunkely-wobbling synth. “Badness (Feat. Bongo Chilli)” melds mathed-out mini-breaks and additional undulating synths to create a fabulous future-dancehall platform for the methodical MC chatter. Good times to be had with this EP.

What I’m Playing: “Rollin Joints”

ANONYMOUS – EP. 4 [BLIND MUSIC]

The fourth release from the completely anonymous Blind Music offers up 3 pieces of percussion-heavy neurofunk.

“BLND#11” is reminiscent of early SOUL:R with a decent amount of extra growl. Detroit techno pads float above the hypnotic synthwork while the time is kept by deftly produced rhythm that is distinctly Intalexian.

“BLND#12” flashes vaguely jazzy chords as it’s opening gambit, quickly followed by a one-two punch of classic DBridge-esque drums and bass that would have made Decoder & Substance proud.

“BLND#13” goes the hardstep route, and fans of the form will find something to enjoy here, though no new ground is being covered. This isn’t really a criticism, as everything on the EP had a lot of care put into it, and D&B isn’t always about blazing new trail. Many classic vibes on offer this month, and Blind Music offers a unique enough take on the format to warrant some additional plays.

E-SASSIN – BACTERIUM/MICROBES [SOUND SPHERE RECORDINGS]
One of the original US Techsteppers, E-Sassin and his label Sound Sphere have played a very important role in the evolution of American D&B.

Cut from the same cloth as his classic releases such as “Symptom” and “Genome”, “Bacterium” stomps along at a breakneck pace, growling and morphing in all the right places. “Microbes” channels the very best of early Ram Trilogy, but with a decidedly dark flavor that only this man can concoct. Back to the future with one of the most influential D&B artists in the US, and the future looks dark.

What I’m Playing: “Bacterium”

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