2562: The New Today
Labels are hard things to shake. No matter what Dave Huismans does or where he goes, dubstep will likely follow—the price one pays for playing a critical role in a genre's rise and eventual solidification. But the aptly titled The New Today, his fourth solo album under the 2562 guise, goes a long way towards distancing him from his formative Tectonic days, and one comes away from the project, issued on his own When In Doubt imprint, impressed with the Dutch producer's ability to progress artistically and re-invent himself.
Formally speaking, The New Today pulls together ideas Huismans sketched out in New York in the summer of 2013 and subsequently finished at his home studio in Utrecht. Whereas his 2011 album Fever rooted itself in disco samples, the new one draws upon obscure samples sourced from musique concrète, krautrock, post-punk, pop, and so on. It hardly surprises that such a diverse range of source materials has resulted in an album whose tracks defy straightforward categorization. It's also telling that not a single one of the eight tracks could in any way, shape, or form be called dubstep.
Similar to the kind of electroacoustic experiment one might encounter on a label like 12k or Room40, the swaths of synth tones and clusters of white noise pulsing through the industrial-ambient space-drone “Arrival” intimate clearly that Huismans is hunting newfound game on the album. In keeping with the opening track title, the album adheres to a clearly delineated narrative arc, graduating as it does from that scene-setter to pieces heavier in tone and rhythmically powered. Next up is the ten-minute “Terraforming,” a psychotropic colossus whose hypnotic swirl of voice accents and melodic flourishes Huismans tinges with African flavour in the drum programming. Echoes of Huismans' roots emerge within “Cosmic Bounce,” even if its thumping groove and funky bass lines suggest a stronger connection to house and funk than dubstep.
An album standout, the jazz-inflected “Vibedoctor” works itself into a fever by powering minimalism-styled mallet patterns with a bass-thudding, locomotive chug. After that halfway mark, The New Today descends into the murkier territory of “Drumroll,” a lethal snare-rattling setting that one could imagine being credited to Jon Mueller more than 2562, and “Cauldron,” a dizzying plunge into the trance-like depths of a seedy club. One comes away from the album—well-timed at fifty-two minutes, by the way—thinking of 2562 as more of a, dare we say, samples-heavy electronica project than one specifically designed with any Bristol dancefloor in mind. Based on the evidence at hand, Huismans appears to be as interested in engaging minds as well as bodies on an album that holds up equally well as a listening album as anything else.