Digital: Catch A Fire EP
Digital: Red Alert / A Message / Maintain
Digital (Steve Carr) makes his first appearance on Dispatch with a three-track EP that speaks highly on behalf of the veteran producer's skills. Though he's exerted a strong influence on others new to the scene, Carr remains committed to moving forward and advancing and refining his own highly personalized take on dub-influenced drum'n'bass. In this particular case, each echo-drenched sound has been thoughtfully placed in productions that feel anything but slapdash.
The release opens with the muscular bass-thudder “Red Alert,” which Digital powers with a tight, subtly skipping snare-and-kick drum combination and darkens with a menacing, dub-accented vibe that oozes threat. The ominous character of the opener carries over into “A Message,” a seductive low-rider whose sneaky, half-time pulse provides a solid foundation for all manner of creepy business to arise. The jewel in this particular crown, however, is “Maintain,” which Carr wrote alongside Audio Habitat and Mad Vibes and whose old-school vibe really kicks into gear when the piano chords arrive; as tasty is the swinging strut that lifts the tune up and sends it on its hard-stepping way. No small amount of care and craft went into the creation of the EP material, and Carr's attention to detail is evident every step of the way.
And he's clearly been busy lately, as another Digital EP, this one issued on his own Function Records, is coming out at the same time as the one on Dispatch. For the sixteen-minute Catch A Fire, Carr draws inspiration from Bob Marley and his politically charged message (“Slave driver, the table is turn / Catch a fire, so you can get get burn, now”). Up first is “Rejection,” a prototypical Digital hell-raiser Carr powers with a rampaging drum pulse that bolts from the gate armed with dub bass thunder and nightmarish synth atmospherics. Carr brings Response aboard for “Light Years,” an equally energy-charged throwdown that perpetuates the opener's storming vibe, after which the title cut nudges the Digital sound in reggae's direction for a dub-inflected cut heavy on bass, echo effects, and “Jah” voice interjections. It's all high-quality stuff, and much the same could be said of the Function release as the Dispatch one as far as attention to detail is concerned.