Machinecode: Velocity

Tim Eliot follows up his late-2013 Current Value release Stay On This Planet with another hard-hitting drum'n'bass collection, this one a seventy-minute collaboration with Subsistenz boss Dean Rodell. Like the earlier Eliot set, the new one pretty much roars from beginning to end— Velocity indeed—with the Berlin duo flexing their artistic muscles in twelve cuts, two of them end-of-album remixes by Mindscape and The Sect. It's not, incidentally, the first time Current Value and Rodell have joined forces under the Machinecode name: they issued the full-length Under The Sun last year and also released a split twelve-inch with I:Gor.

One point of orientation for the material's sound and style is provided by the press release's characterization of the music as the type “that Metalheadz would have put out if technological advances at the beginning of the ‘90s were the same as they are today.” Given that, listeners with a jones for Goldie's label should find Velocity to be a more-than-inviting proposition. Certainly no one could possibly nod off during lethal pieces such as “Others” and “Scanners,” for instance, both of which roll out gullotine-sharp drum attacks and punishing bass throb, and neither could one label the album lethargic or genteel when all the tracks subscribe to an unwavering upper-BPM register. Some tracks park themselves within neurofunk and dubstep-inflected zones, whereas “Insomnia” will keep one up all night with a moody display that works into its arrangement disturbing voice treatments and a high-rolling, jungle-inflected beat design.

Yet while there's no denying its generally aggressive and uptempo nature, Velocity is hardly a one-dimensional collection, as Current Value and Rodell do much to pepper the tracks with enough distinguishing detail to prevent them from sounding too similar. Strings, melismatic vocal exhalations, and piano plinks help “Drunken Master,” for example, stand out, though one could also identify its twitchy pulse and groaning bass lines as accomplishing much the same. In like spirit, a declamatory synth theme surfaces throughout “Ready” to give the wobbly banger a somewhat prog-like edge. The remixes by Mindscape and The Sect (of “Reptile” and “Earth,” respectively) are no less thunderous than the Machinecode originals, and the cohesiveness of the album therefore isn't diminished by their participation.

Velocity inhabits a satisfying artistic zone midway between accessibility and experimentation, with its tracks managing to be explorative without betraying their drum'n'bass identity. Though there is ebb and flow as well as occasional breakdowns and ambient moments, the album's forward thrust is never arrested to any significant degree, and consequently Machinecode's material always exudes a powerful aerodynamic quality.

March 2014