Total Control LP – VA : Function Records

I’m pretty confident that there are no drum & bass fans in the world who need anymore convincing of Digital’s prowess or the incredible contribution his music has made to the genre, but this weeks release of his ‘Total Control’ LP has provided another 12 tracks of evidence just in case. Joined by a tantalising roster of collaborators including Q Project, John B, Spirit, Seba and more, this LP is nothing short of the quality we’ve come to expect from Digital and the Function Records imprint as a whole. The 4 part coloured vinyl release comes with 3 tracks per plate and for me the whole bundle is a must have!

The A side kicks the album off with what I think might be the most typically Digital track of the lot! ‘Motherland’ begins with spaced out pads and teasing drums on the intro, which lead to the absolutely weighty bass line surrounded by heaps of reggae influence. If the drum arrangement and the constantly bouncing sub bass weren’t enough of a give away, then the vocal sample definitely tips it over the edge. That echoed, slightly stretched ragga clip is edited in a manner that I’ve heard in so many Digital tracks and it completes the tone perfectly. A real stormer to open up proceedings!

On the flip we’ve got the only remix of the album and it comes in the form of the magnificent Seba’s remoulding of Digital & Response’s ‘Sliver Lining’. This one stays very true the immensely strong original; the fantastic wobbling bass line of the original remains, while the drums seem to have acquired an ever so slightly neater finish. The main update however, is the increased prominence of the smoother atmospheric elements of the track, which really come to fruition during the first break down. The bass line then fires back in but this time it seems smoother and softer as it sits atop the calming aquatic background tones, but don’t get too comfortable! Before you know the running drum break is back in full force along with the punchy vocal as the track continues its sub genre switching madness.

Sharing the B side of plate 1, Digital has teamed up with one of my favourite artists around over the past few years, Villem. The aptly named ‘Lost Civilisation’ very gradually builds a kind of wondrous tone of discovery throughout the intro, with elements of something you might expect to hear on the Avatar soundtrack. The half time bass line then slowly rolls in, quickly followed by some slightly sadder piano keys, each one echoing into the next. I actually find this track incredibly soothing which is something I associate more with Villem’s production, although the intensity does pick up a little on the second drop as the bass line starts to gain a little bit of aggression. Definitely a great chill out tune if you ask me!

Over to Part 2 of the vinyl release now and the title track ‘Total Control’, which I can assure you is anything but soothing! A thumping bass kick is present throughout the track, stopping only to make way for a short onslaught of crashing snares. Sub bass injections enter every few bars along with the accented vocal constantly demanding control over this wild combination of elements. I think it’s safe to say that when this one gets drawn, all control on the dance floor will be lost!

A huge collaboration comes next with the deadly triple threat of Digital, Spirit and Q Project teaming up on the awesome ‘To Meeeeee’. A fairly unassuming intro on this one comprises some light whistles before the heavier drums begin to drop hints of what’s to follow. The Break esc vocal sample calls out over the rumbling bass line, which combined with the faint growling and the stepping drum break sets this one up to be an absolute weapon in the dance.

‘So fine’ finishes off Part 2 and there’s no letting up in the dance floor destroying theme that seems to be running through this plate. This one’s a no frills, straight up filthy drum break combined with a steaming bass line, with a bit of classic ragga vocals just to blend it all together. Full to the brim with wild snares and boisterous sub bass, there’ll be no shortage of salutes when this track is pumping out the speakers.

Up next is a big contender for my track of the album and it comes from the tried and tested combo of Digital and Response. The modestly named ‘Just Another BLine’ kicks off with some initially tentative drums, which seem to grow in confidence with the support of the echoing vocal sample, before the bass line eases in without any disruption to the smooth flow established by the intro. It definitely is that BLine that gets me going here; it’s got such a soft touch and rolls so smooth while at the same time packing plenty of power. All round elegant tune!

The B side of Part 3 is loaded up with two solo Digital tracks that might just make this the most delicious plate of the 4. First up ‘Friendly Fire’ sets off with a panicked intro, with the tone lead by the stuttering keys. An absolutely wicked reggae vocal sample (which I have tried and failed to find the source of) then brings everything to a halt and signals the entrance of the bouncy sub bass and storming snares.

Rounding off Plate 3 we get in to the all together darker territory of ‘Dreamer’. This one’s bursting with all an array of vibes and influences, from the vocal on the intro that creates a supernatural feeling reminiscent of Photek’s ‘U.F.O.’ to the rumbling bass line and deep punchy drums that have an air of Dom & Roland about them. This one stands as a reminder that although Digital seems to posses an unmistakable style, you still can’t predict the form his ever morphing production may take.

On the theme of classic dark 90’s vibes, as soon as the drums kick in on ‘On The Rockz’, I can almost hear “piperrrr”! And much like Jonny L’s legendary track, when the bass line erupts on this one, things get shifted up a gear. Whiplash provider, screw face inducer and all round stepper! As I’m listening to it now I just can’t deny this track my top spot, that little false start in the drums at the first mini breakdown just gets me every time!

Another alarming intro begins the B side of the black Part 4 with Digital and John B’s ‘You and Me’. The occasional faint bass stab appears in the background before the track drops and the full force of the bass line is unleashed. The tune seems to settle down as it leads to the breakdown, only for round 2 of the rowdy bass and abrasive pads to make their return to the forefront at the second drop. The story of the ghostly moans that fade the tune out seems to continue straight into the final track ‘Lazarus’, coming from the dangerous combo of Digital, Nomine and Flava. More eerie vocals lead into yet another huge bass line with an ever present clanging snare, rounding off another magnificent collection of drum & bass tracks for the Function Records crew.

The album is ready to drop this Friday and I strongly advise that the vinyl heads don’t sleep on this one, with the album + t-shirt bundle already selling out! Click here to head over to the Function band camp and bag your copy.