Atrium / Box Rituals
VA: The Aftermath
Toronto-born and currently London, UK-based Cameron McLaren aka Consequence brings an impressive amount of experience and body of work (including three full-lengths on Exit Records: 2009's Live For Never, 2011's Test Dream, and 2011's Cancel Standard under the alias They Live with Joe Seven) to this solid two-track single for Pushing Red. In place of the standard 170 BPM blaze, the single's opening cut “Atrium” cools the pace for a head-turning stepper featuring no small amount of atmospheric sparkle, bass thrust, and off-beat snare strikes. It's the ascending, quasi-mystical melody that gives the tune its unique, neo-Gothic character, however, and one reaches the end of the track wishing it were longer just so the theme could play a few times more. The comparatively more aggressive B-side “Box Rituals” immediately asserts itself with a hyperactive 4/4 pulse and pounding throbs before rocketing into deep space where woozy sci-fi swirls and washes endlessly resound. At a lean ten minutes, the single comes and goes quickly—too quickly for my liking, in itself a good sign.
French label IM:LTD also delivers some serious goods on its new compilation The Aftermath. Don't be thrown by the dystopic connotation of the title, as the hour-long collection, while sometimes heavy, is no down experience, nor is it a bruising audio assault. If anything, the album often plays like the eerily calm aftermath following the nuclear storm. It's also a reminder of just how resourcefully gifted producers are able to work within a particular genre, in this case drum'n'bass. The ten-track set opens with the title cut, a delicious hard-hitter from Flaco & Glen E.Ston that rolls out a classic drum'n'bass groove that's about as heavy as one might hope. As crushing as the bottom end is, there's lots happening up top, too, including warm synth breezes and hypnotic vocal chants. As punchy is Silent Dust's remix of Es.Tereo's “Have A Dream,” especially when it gets its kick from whipcrack snares and a sub-bass that stalks with the laser focus of a ravenous shark.
But other cuts, such as Es.Tereo & Marlyn's “Winteria” and Atom's “Analog Books,” favour a more contemplative and less intense approach that makes The Aftermath as satisfying a headphones listen as anything else. Novel touches, like the wind chimes trilling through Glen E.Ston's exquisitely chilled “Black On Ice” and the dial-up screech and vinyl crackle heard throughout Mortem's lurching head-nodder “Recall,” help make the individual pieces memorable. Strong, too, are Hibea's bass-dropping shuffler “Butterfly” and Physical Illusion's “We Feeling What We Doing,” which plays like some Boards of Canada-drum'n'bass fusion and is elevated by a gravelly vocal turn from Kryptomedic. That same outfit's “All Inside Myself,” on the other hand, is marred by a vocal performance that's a little too rock-oriented for its own good, but that's the rare misstep on this otherwise solid compilation.