EPs / Cassettes / Singles
Shades Of Me & You / Never Let You Go (Blu Mar Ten Remix)
Northern Lights EP
Arriving fast on the heels of Sebastian Ahrenberg's superb Identity full-length (Secret Operations, 2013), Seba's fifth outing on Warm Communications (available in digital and twelve-inch vinyl formats) goes down smoothly indeed, especially when its two tracks stay true to his trademark sound. Classic Seba, “Shades Of Me & You” weaves voice samples (a soulful female singer and a deep male voice intoning “The future…is your time”), synth flourishes, and a deep stepping groove into six minutes of warm, drum'n'bass splendour. The sultry and sensual contributions by the female singer takes the track to a higher level, but Ahrenberg's handling of tension and release is as central to the tune's impact. On the flip, Blu Mar Ten (Chris Marigold and Michael Tognarelli) grabs the reins for a rework of Seba's “Never Let You Go.” An exercise in controlled euphoria, the anthem augments its light-speed pulse with a deadly bass undercurrent and the soulful musings of a female vocalist. Wrap the whole in atmospheric synth touches and the result is one more dynamic example of drum'n'bass artistry with Seba's name attached to it.
Overseen by D.A (Daniel Clarke) and in operation since 2001, NexGen Music is founded upon the idea of showcasing the depth and diversity of electronic music and its sub-genres (among those listed at its site are dubstep, chill-out, nu-jazz, deep house, and drum'n'bass) and providing a context for experimentation and collaboration between artists. Its latest EP, Northern Lights, makes good on such principles by featuring four diverse cuts by multiple contributors.
The A-side clearly focuses on the jazzier end of the drum'n'bass spectrum. Faible (Stepan Christian, from Vienna, Austria and with NexGen Music since 2011) opens the disc with the sunny title track, a jazzy take that receives a strong boost from the serenading vocal charms of Iriann Joyce. Her voice isn't the only thing worth noting—the acoustic piano, muted trumpet, and synth textures Christian drapes across the track also contribute to its elegant and soulful spirit. And no, “Disco Inferno” isn't a cover of The Trammps' 1976 classic but instead a D.A rework of a high-energy cut by Clart (James Tan) and mSdoS (Chris Kouzellis). The inclusion of jazz guitar riffing gives the tune a George Benson vibe that suggests a better title for it might have been “Breezin',” and the presence of acoustic jazz instrumentation (saxophone, trumpet, piano) makes Clart and mSdoS's cut a natural companion to Faible's.
Physical Illusion (Pavel Kuzmin) and Sonny Crimea open the flip dynamically with “Something About Love,” which is powered by some of the tightest and punchiest drum patterning we've heard in these parts in quite a while. The track's other elements—a female vocal line, electric piano accents, etc.—are appealing, and the tempo contrast between the vocal and the drumming is also arresting, but the roaring groove is clearly the focal point. The final cut, “Mario in Computer Hell” by Reborn, feels like the odd man out in this context: while the track exemplifies the label's commitment to stylistic diversity, its day-glo synth swirls would sound more at home on a Hyperdub single than on Northern Lights, and the absence of drum'n'bass rhythms in the piece puts too much distance between it and the EP's other cuts. Still, three our of four ain't bad.