Anile: All This Time / That Night
CIA Deepkut

Break / Detail: Steamtrain / Days Go By
Symmetry Recordings

Ed:it / Mikal: Cargo Dub (Total Science Remix) / Kick Back
Rooted Recordings

Drum'n'bass doesn't always have to seethe like some rabid pit bull, as this debut single for C.I.A's sister label Deepkut by Anile (Matthew Tapp) makes clear. In this case, the two tracks receive dramatic boosts from the respective vocal contributions of classically trained singer Hannah Eve and Jess Brinham. The deep rolling groove powering A-side's “All This Time” is nicely complemented by Eve's soulful performance—her delicate musings an elegant counterpoint to the smooth bass lines and twinkling pianos that atmospherically adorn Anile's lush track. Classy, too, is “That Night,” which, especially when graced by a vocal from Brinham tinged with regret, is as sultry as the A-side if a tad more downcast in spirit (“Something's comin' over me / Haven't been the same since that evening…”). Suffused with emotion, both cuts hit hard but, refreshingly, a tad less so than your average drum'n'bass throwdown. Romantic despair never sounded so good.

Also available is a fine two-tracker from Break (Symmetry Recordings runner Charlie Bierman) and Detail. Break, who's been rolling out drum'n'bass material since 2001, makes good on the title of “Steamtrain” by sprinkling the track with hydraulic, train-related sounds but more importantly by powering it with a writhing, gut-punching groove and descending, three-note motif. Adding to the cut's dark character is an evocative sound design that makes the material seem as if Break coated it in industrial soot and grime before shipping it to the pressing plant. Considerably less lethal by comparison is the B-side's deep stepper “Days Go By” by Detail, especially when it includes a haunting vocal by Tiiu. Melancholy in tone and tailor-made for the early hours, the rainswept cut has more in common with Anile's than Break's but nevertheless makes a strong case for Detail's refined production skills.

The two-track single from Rooted Recordings featuring cuts from Ed:it and Metalheadz' Mikal is worth tracking down, too. Total Science's rough'n'ready rework of Ed:it's “Cargo Dub” locks into position from the first moment and keeps the magic happening for five too-short minutes with a locomotive, bass-throbbing attack that's anvil-heavy and grime-laden but also elegant in its incorporation of piano flourishes. If anything, “Kick Back” possesses even more oomph than “Cargo Dub” as Mikal gets maximum mileage out of the tune's punishing beat pattern and writhing bass smears. Though an occasional voice snippet rises to the surface, it's quickly pulled back into the vortex in a cut that's primarily about groove.

August-September 2013