Chroma: Intermission / Knock Knock
Mako and Villem: Whatever / Whatever
This latest go-round of drum'n'bass releases gets underway with a two-tracker by Berlin-based Martsman (Martin Heinze) for Pushing Red. “Shrank” kicks into gear with a slinky, garage-inflected groove, its swirl growing ever more intricate as the seconds tick by and the swishing hi-hats fold the beat inside-out. Things also turn funkier as the synths seep in and the low end rumbles, details that help make “Shrank” a rather stunning exercise in artful construction and development. Heinze amps up the atmosphere for “NYCD,” a skanky, percussion-heavy shuffler whose low-end wobble is memorably spritzed by a synth swizzle. Strap yourself in for a bleepy midsection whose high-pitched chatter sounds like deep sea glissandi laughing. Still, the B-side's as strong as “Shrank” if a tad darker in tone, the break notwithstanding. If Martsman's single doesn't reimagine the drum'n'bass form, it certainly expands upon it in fresh manner.
Next up is a new single on Total Science's CIA imprint from Chroma, the Newcastle production outfit consisting of Phobia, Sato, and Tyrone that formed in 2011 and announced its arrival on the scene with releases on Klute's Commercial Suicide label and Phobia's Coded. The opening cut, “Intermission,” pairs a classic drum'n'bass groove with sub-bass throb and voice sample interjections to punishing effect, while the ruff'n'ready stepper “Knock Knock” rounds out the release with a hammerhead attack rife with android voice effects, bongos, and astral projections that point to galaxies beyond. Though the single admittedly hews closely to genre traditions, the tracks are a potent pair nonetheless.
On their Warm Communications single, tag-team members Mako (Utopia Music head Stephen Redmore) and Villem (Andrew Wilson) join forces for the jazzy, jungle-inflected throwdown “Whatever Whatever,” making sure to mix in generous amounts of lethal dubstep flavour in the process. Sprinkled with a vocal accent of the track title, their perfect storm rages for a dizzying six minutes before Mako goes it alone for the flip's “I Used To Be Like You,” which embeds film dialogue samples within a fresh twist on the genre. Cinematic in mood, Mako's cut sneaks in multiple breakdowns and left turns during its sultry six minutes.
Kuantum's Wasteland parts company with the preceding in two ways: it's a four-track EP, not single, and it's also dubstep as opposed to drum'n'bass. It ain't Skrillex-styled EDM either but instead dubstep of the classic, from-the-source form. The title track leads the way with a speaker-throttling rumbler of tribal beats and portentous voice samples, all of it wrapped in gloom. Emblazoned with enough sub-bass growl to arm a dubstep nation, the equally heavy “Innervision” slows the tempo to a mastodon-like lurch, a move replicated by the aptly titled “Distracted” (featuring contributions by fellow producer Mateba). Awash in atmospheric haze, the track evokes the kind of stupefaction one might feel gazing upon a bombed-out city of ruins. Without betraying the EP's overall mood, “Majora” manages to slip in a smidgen of hope at EP's end by energizing the track with a lively pulse and elegant piano tinklings. Dubstep the way it used to be…