Backtracking with Lenzman
Sontag Shogun

Black Top
Apollo Brown
Jeff Burch
Anla Courtis
Federico Durand
William Ryan Fritch
Goldberg, Levy, Dobson
Mitch Greer
Hiss Tracts
Kabale Und Liebe
Inigo Kennedy
Moon Zero
James Murray
Never Sol
N. A. Drift / Northumbria
P.J. Philipson
Pjusk / Sleep Orchestra
PRISM Quartet
David Ross & Clive Bell
Bruno Sanfilippo
Snoqualmie Falls
Alexander Turnquist
Kojiro Umezaki
The Westerlies
Brock Van Wey

Compilations / Mixes
Platinum Breakz Vol 4

EPs / Cassettes / Mini-Albums / Singles
Blind EP1
Matt Boettke
Brandon Hurtado
Kolectiv, Dexta & Mauoq
John Lemke
Mako, DLR & Fields
Frederic Robinson
Summons of Shining...
Tone Color

Stephen Vitiello

VA: Platinum Breakz Vol 4

If I didn't know any better, I'd think that whoever compiled Platinum Breakz Vol 4 deliberately designed its contents to show just how rich in stylistic scope drum'n'bass can be. For from being an overly restrictive straightjacket, the genre has proven to be not only enduring but elastic, and never more so, it seems, than today. All talk aside, the music, issued on Goldie's long-running Metalheadz imprint, speaks for itself on the seventeen-cut collection, and listeners with a jones for stunningly inventive drum breaks will discover lots to dig into during its 100 minutes. Lots of marquee artists participate, too, among them Calibre, Om Unit, Lenzman, Jubei, Consequence, Dub Phizix, and Skeptical.

The set begins on a high with “Timelines,” which finds Om Unit bringing the thunder to a ferocious sampling of mesmerizing beatwork. But as strong as its drum programming is, the track's not just a beatscape but also an episodic shape-shifter that packs voice and soulful vocal samples into its five-minute air-time. Memorable too is “Archive,” an aerodynamic banger whose shuffling swing Calibre sprinkles with piano waterfalls seemingly lifted from some old Lawrence Welk telecast.

The collection naturally includes a handful of molotov cocktails for those whose taste runs to the harder end of the drum'n'bass spectrum (Ulterior Motive's “Gods Neighbours” and The Invaderz' “The Ascent,” to cite two), but many tracks opt for other stylistic areas. The genre's soulful side receives a powerful kick from DLR & Script's “Blue Room,” which Martyna Baker elevates with her warm vocal presence, and Ivy Lab & Hydro's “Make It Clear,” which doubles the vocal pleasure by featuring smooth contributions from Frank Carter III and Lucy Annika. Lenzman & FD's “Joanie's Theme” likewise oozes soul, due to a sultry “Show me how” vocal riff that appears alongside the tune's stoked gallop, as does Dub Phizix & Skeptical's “Deeper Love,” which enhances its late-night atmosphere with elegant piano flourishes and strings. Whereas AI take things in another direction by adding the viral drawl of MC DRS to the buzz-saw fury of “War Horse,” Bipolar infuses “Interlude” with jazz flavour by adding saxophone and flute wail to its swing. If there's an odd man out on the release, it's Digital's “Mini Cooper,” which embraces dub so completely it leaves drum'n'bass behind altogether.

There's nothing to suggest that Platinum Breakz Vol 4 was intended to be taken for a manifesto. But, decades after the form's emergence, it nevertheless sends an extremely strong message in affirming the vitality of drum'n'bass as a genre and as a form amenable to a broad range of stylistic treatments.

June 2014