Quentin Hiatus: Clever Girl / Orange Dreams

Out of Fuel: Isolation EP
Translation Recordings

Seba: Nobody Knows / Implosion
Secret Operations

Lest anyone might make the mistake of thinking one electronic beatmaker's the same as any other, here are three whose individual styles are all clearly different, even if their releases would all be categorized as drum'n'bass for simplicity's sake. What we've got here are a half-hour EP from the Finnish outfit Out of Fuel plus a pair of two-track singles from Quentin Hiatus and our old friend Sebastian Ahrenberg aka Seba.

Rounding out their Isolation EP with a Resound remix, Helsinkians Matti and Otto first serve up some serious beat science in four new cuts, all of them mind-warping exercises in low-end physics and bass weight. These Out of Fuel productions are designed as much for the listening lounge as the club, even if crisp beats act as a throbbing undertow for much of it. There's no small amount of artfulness in the sound design the duo gets up to in “Hypersensitivity,” an infectiously snappy, bass-roiling workout, and “Cabin Fever,” which is so dense in effects it could be described as dubwise, even if the track's snarl and stepping groove stylistically have little in common with dub proper. Higher on the electronic dub meter is the echo-drenched “Minus 25,” while “Chain Reaction” brings the thunder via a cage-rattling kick drum, showers of ringing ride cymbals, and layers of funky percussive detail. Resound's the guest here, but his pounding, techno-fueled Rhytual Remix of 2016's “Ghosts” proves to be as atmospheric as the EP's others.

Quentin Hiatus makes his first appearance on Silent Dust's none60 imprint with two stormers of his own, the opener “Clever Girl” a neon-lit dynamo powered by serpentine, sequencer-styled synthesizer dazzle and a drum'n'bass pulse that's as punchy and throat-cutting as all get out; add in a funky vocal loop treatment and you've got an earworm that burrows deep and possesses no small amount of hypnotic allure. The flip's “Orange Dreams” takes a page or two out of Burial's playbook without sacrificing its identity as a Hiatus production; the uptempo swish of intricate tribal beatwork helps in that regard, as does a plethora of weird noise effects, silken synth washes, and the inclusion of a mangled voice element.

Issued on his own Secret Operations imprint, Seba's two-tracker pairs a tribute to minimal dub techno on one side with a riff on the well-known Amen break on the other. Ahrenberg says of “Implosion,” “If you like techno, you will most likely like this,” but truth be told it's more drum'n'bass than techno, at least insofar as the beatsmithing's concerned. No matter: it's a punchy, head-rushing affair that charges forward with single-minded determination, its hellacious thrust oblivious, it seems, to whooshing voice effects that roll in from all directions. “Nobody Knows” is the lesser track of the two, not because it doesn't blaze with fiery determination but simply because the Amen break has grown too familiar through overuse. That said, there's no denying its impact, especially when delivered at full throttle as it is here and beefed up with a hornet's swarm of a bass line. It's no surprise that it got played in every one of Seba's 2017 sets, as well as that Klute and Digital are among the DJs who've supported it.

February 2018