Current Value: Stay On This Planet

Tim Eliot's Current Value profile was raised noticeably when he contributed beats to Bjork's “Sacrifice” for her 2011 Biophilia release and two pieces to the remix album a year later, but the so-called neuroid drum'n'bass music he releases on his own more than holds up on its own terms, as evidenced by his seventh solo collection Stay On This Planet (his first, Frequency Hunt, appeared all the way back in 1998 on Position Chrome). As this second outing on the Berlin label Subsistenz makes clear, the music produced by the Machinecode member (Subsistenz head Dean Rodell the other half) constitutes a raw take on the genre, with the twelve tracks collectively breathing lethal fire.

The Current Value sound isn't only drum'n'bass, however, as Eliot is more than happy to stretch its core sound into new directions by working in elements of techno and especially dubstep, making Stay On This Planet more than anything a recording occupying some indeterminate point between drum'n'bass and dubstep. Representative tracks such as “The Arrival” and “Ghost Rider,” to name two, feature punishing beatsmithing emblematic of the former, while their throbbing bass wobble clearly draws upon traditions associated with the latter. A given Current Value piece squawks and writhes aggressively like some naked Bath Salts addict flailing violently in the middle of the street (see “Weirdo”).

Vocal-inflected tracks like “Down My Veins” and “Stay On This Planet” suggest Eliot, like Bjork, recognizes how much more accessible a dubstep-drum'n'bass cut can be when there's a memorable vocal melody to hang its hat on. But such a move hardly registers as a compromise when the tracks otherwise wail with as much stutter-funk fury as the vocal-less cuts. If anything, a few more differentiating moves of that kind (such as the spiraling synthesizer pattern that begins “Stop Them,” for instance) would have been welcome to offset the sameness that begins to set in by the ninth or tenth cut. Even so, Current Value's music, regardless of whether it's called neuroid, technoid, neurofunk, or simply drum'n'bass, is a dark and relentless juggernaut that manifests the pulverizing intensity of breakcore and the underground grit'n'grime of dubstep. Definitely not one for your grandmother.

October 2013