The past eighteen months or so have given rise to a notable surge in the readiness of key bodies within Drum & Bass to step out of their comfort zone; endorsing the progressive application of experimentation surrounding 170 BPM music and presenting it squarely to the masses. Since the turning of the year alone, followers of this bracket-defying sensibility have been treated to the diverse outputs of Chimpo, Fracture, Ivy Lab, Sam Binga and newcomer Fixate from tastemakers of the Drum & Bass world such as Metalheadz, Critical Music and Exit Records; each having shrewdly picked up the scent of something much larger afoot. Now, that’s not to say that Drum & Bass is necessarily moving onto a new phase; with proponents of the old guard still bringing the weight and maintaining novelty to this day (this being what’s so special about the genre), but Drum & Bass is without doubt experiencing a form of lateral expansion these days.
Fracture, on the other hand, has been pushing his madcap jungle-plus infusion since way back in 2005 alongside long-term production partner Neptune; delineating an agenda for sonic exploration in 2009 upon forging their label, Astrophonica. Providing a home for their own collaborations, this platform of musical miscellany also boasts the tempo-bending styles of Om Unit, Machinedrum, Sam Binga, Moresounds, plus ’Get Busy’ creator and Fracture alias Dawn Day Night; whilst staying rooted in the outskirts of Drum & Bass through a connection to the formative styles of the genre.
Next up on 2015’s burgeoning front of quality experimentation is the ‘Pure Niceness’ EP from Paris-based Moresounds. Having dropped with an almighty thud on Fracture’s imprint last week (I’m a little late to the party with this one – I admit), Pure Niceness encapsulates all that is good about this current sensibility; the nuance of nostalgic UK Hardcore / Jungle music with contemporary minimalism.
The dark romanticism of ‘Reality Tune’ is Astrophonica all over. The deep low passed reese bassline rumbles luxuriously beneath a half-time swing, punctuated with jungle flourishes and the nineties cadence of an exquisitely catchy female vocal sample. It’s a delectable track that’ll be buzzing around your head for days – It has mine.
‘Altercations’ makes good use of resampled old school jungle pads before plummeting the listener into a barmy footwork overlap of grime-cum-jungle stylings, with hyperactive spasmodic breaks and creepily warped roots vocal samples. The high-pressure and inclusive cross-atlantic feel endows this track with the strong potential for cross-genre utilisation.
The wonky groove of the title track, ‘Pure Niceness’, cooks up a minimal soundclash of bleeps, sirens and a peppering of breaks atop a stripped-back bass line. In commendation; the anodyne quality and drug-addled vibe of this tune would sit perfectly during any graveyard shift.
Onto my personal favourite, with label boss collaboration ‘Dead & Bury’. This no-frills, but by no means lacking, jungle roller selectively draws upon all the right elements of nostalgia; hinting at modern footwork style drumwork during the breakdown beneath a soulfully pitched-up female vocal sample, before dropping back into an outright melee of atmospheric breaks and a pounding bassline. It’s a straight up dance floor killer.
You can nab yourself a copy of this excellent EP on both formats including a 12” with limited edition rubber stamped sleeves through Astrophonica’s Bandcamp site or digitally across all good record stores.
Mix courtesy of Big Up Magazine
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