Sounds Of SUB:STANCE
TBR: 23rd November
Five years have flown by since Scuba closed the book on his seemingly eternal SUB:STANCE party. The fusion of UK dubstep and Berlin techno brought many names and faces together to enjoy the benefits of both scenes. Good times with good people leave good memories so it truly is high time for a SUB:STANCE release to commemorate those pleasant days. Sometimes our artistic children grow up and leave home, finding a place in someone else's project or enjoying a merry retirement in the knowledge of a job well done. When we go round to visit, we're reminded of those times when life was younger and when we hadn't dreamed of today's motivations. This huge album of almost thirty tracks brings together all the best bits that didn't get a major showing the first time around. Either editor's cuts or vinyl only material, this record ensures that everyone gets their name on a freshly cooked pie.
Matty G with 50,0000 Watts gives us massive intro made of a heavy vocal echo repeating the (almost) title of the track. A scraping metallic undertone shows us the extra side of the silence and then it's filled by a surging bass and drum rhythm. A tribal dancing energy pounds through the mix like a stampede, melodic chimes and fresh samples keep everything interesting. Fat injections of wobbling bass craft huge runways for our focus to pin down the music. A thicker treble pushes us like a roller as the next track strikes the match. More heavy bassline fills the bottom end while psychedelic and head stroking subtle waves swirl above. Echoing drums with far stretched reverb gives Titan Rain by Vex'd a sludgy feel that's dosed with curious magic. 2nd II None adapt the flow to a sensual dreamy feel before chiming in with a tropical sounding percussive melody. This Peverelist Remix of Waterfallz gives us a shiny and upbeat dip into crystalline waters.
After a lengthy relaxing bathe in the sounds of 2nd II None, a snappy drum kick-starts us back into motion. Heavy cymbals bounce in after a couple of bars which are soon joined by even more beats. It builds us up with a drum roll before the studio magic breaks down the sound to reveal a day-glow bassline that moves up and down in easily manageable loops. It's joined by more drums and the dance number really gets going. Trevino's Derelict makes a meal of all the right ingredients for a high energy floor-filler. Scuba himself takes the helm for the next section. Ripchord begins with an oddly formed rhythm, quick and bipolar. It's given a thread through the middle by a bongo edge which fits everything together. Then a quick cymbal hat begins to spell out the basics while the sounds revolve and flow around the tempo. Mysterious tones on a worming synth craft a spacey journey through the sky while we stamp our feet to the beat on the dance-floor below. Skream takes on the slightly eerie sensation for Ain't It Cold? A chilly breeze snakes through the fast paced percussion while a subtle bass gradually builds into a moving fence of neatly sectioned sound.
Another tribal beat-fest shimmers with hypnotic energy as Shackleton reveals Torn Skin. A strange vocal sample of seemingly nonsensical syllables creates a uniquely organic rhythm which gives way to maniac drumming on the distinctly electronic kit. The track explores the effects of key and tone on the repeating drum which is composed well enough to be exciting on its own. Toasty's Skinny takes a dive into a dreamy mist of quenching rhythm and synthesiser. Keys shine in luminous bursts which when joined by friendly voice recordings make a showing of fantasy. The track is skinny in a way, with only a few elements to the mix they are however so well made that there is plenty of music to enjoy. Darkest Red by Appleblim cuts the sound down to a solitary bass drum which, with precision accuracy, begins the tempo of the track. It's joined by cosmic sound effects that sneak in and out of the stereo landscape which new drums add layer and clarity to the catchy beat. Dirty bass with computer effected tones give a digital quality to the mix that has had enough human intervention to remain organic despite its synthesised nature.
More rhythmically psychedelic tones reverberate round a central dancing point for the next number. Analogue sounding oscillations merge with keystrokes that build in intensity over the forthcoming bars. Progressive and atmospheric, Vicodin by Instra:mental forms into a glowing mass of subtle waves and contained beats which evolve into ever growing directions. Perhaps time for a breather, a gloomy light and slowed down mechanics makes this one something of a fresh start. Scuba makes another appearance on this multiple artist record to give us Eject. It begins with a huge trill synth tone which wakes us up from the realms of dream which we had been led into by the previous track. Warm synth chords mingle with bass tones and drum to begin a steady march back to the dance-floor. It's still got a slowness and a relaxed pace which makes a difference however the individual sounds are so full of life that the music contains the same energy as a faster number. It feels like the tempo speeds up, as the drum-breaks bring in new energy, subtle shifts in the composition raise the flame even more.
Melody comes back in a big way for Mercury Dub by TRG. Tones on the keys and with classical instruments combine to give a wholesome a full-bodied sound. Clear bass drum kicks in with an attitude that makes us listen to it. Turned up in the mix, we're allowed to hear the full range of harmonics in each thud. The high energy rhythm begins to shudder back into the music after a fairly long stretch of dream side-lining into the realms of the more experimental and sound discovery areas of the record. Long builds and continual evolution of sonic pressure gives the Vex'd Remix of Search and Destroy's Wavescape a direction and a path which it encourages the whole house to follow. Heavy basslines which curve in predictable melodics give this a solid sensation of something on the horizon. Vocal sample snaps us to attention and a quick synth midrange tone keys a fast moving melody in short bursts. Forgiven by Addison Groove emerges from the pits with amplitude and strength. Unison melodies give a dose of motivation and party energy while the atmosphere knits itself a brightly coloured new sweater. The sounds of passing engineering give the track a 3D quality which helps to bring our mental image of the music together.
Feeling That I Know So Well by Sepalcure makes an entrance with a warm distortion like old vinyl or distant rain outside. Summertime sensations with degraded vocals and sunny keys bring a mirage of sound which builds to form a unique and interesting structure. Trumpets ring out the sound of new light when all of a sudden an extra layer of rhythm brings in a rolling wave of motion. Sirens wail and bass drums bash out a new sensation. Manic effects bring out a true emergency of sound which once it has ensured we are all listening, is replaced by a frantic and upbeat bassline. Rolling drums and fast-stepping melodics in the rhythm makes this a requestable and repeatable offering. Syn Chron by Boddika takes us on a journey through frenzied rhythms and sumptuous synthesiser sounds. Crafty drumming opens Schmuck by Roska. Retro bouncing keys give an arcade feel to the wobbling rhythms, steady yet oddly jointed. New drums give a more solid line of thought to the sound, while heady and distant breath notes swoop overhead. Wooden sounding drums allow for a warming up within the corridors of unjustly forgotten technology.
Bouncing two-step drums kick in to make the energy transparent. This next one is easy to dance to, a temperate bass drum with bouncing percussion mixes with repeating bass to give a solid bed for what comes next. Sky high tones drift like flocks of long-tailed birds through the canopy of tall trees, made up by the far reaching rhythm behind them. Tracer by the returning Trevino brings that classic bass line feel to some more dreamy and well made sonic imagery. Winding Shott brings out an Eastern sounding drum and chime combination. Untold begins like a clock, telling us it's midday. Second hand ticks and melodic bells build on their well timed passages until a steady drum-fill breaks open the bubbles. A new bass tone with a deeper sounding clang makes this second act much more magnetic. Roaring snare-drum rolls and high pressure tones make this number high energy and room enhancing. The alternative version of Live Dawn by Shackleton comes next. More trademark vocal samples build the basis for up in the air drumming and thrusting bass that grabs your feet. Around half way a twinkling synthesiser tone builds on the tower of sound whose foundations are truly laid. It makes way for swirling and windswept sounds to pull us deep into the mix.
Vex'd join forces with Search and Destroy for End of Line. This multidisciplinary action enters with a heavy synth tone that shakes the ground. Distorted vocals increase the pressure before a frantic drumbeat begins to surge. Retro bass drum with high energy snare reinvigorate the senses and pull us into gear for hard partying. Things slow down to a cool swagger as the next number refreshes the scene. A smooth drum with emotive female vocals build into a steady slow dance with finger clicks and oceanic cymbal crashes. The 808 Bass by Matty G is all about the rhythm and its massive mixing potential. Pop that P by Jon Convex is next. A steady upbeat bass bangs out a fast and energetic rhythm. Vocals add a layer of humanity as catchy percussion builds to roll out the carpet. Repeating phrases sampled and looped give a dancing feel while varying directions of bass and synthesiser in the underground make each bar something unique. Untold by Rainbow Dell follows. A heavy synthesiser breaks open with bells and clamour. It soon fades to a mysterious tone that slowly grows into a haunting and childlike melody. Drums add a layer of danceability which tops the track with a simple yet vital finishing touch.
New drums make way for an injection of the standard dance-floor pleasing sounds we need on any techno album. Never mind how experimental we want to be, the people who buy the music and go to the shows want what they pay for. This is no different, each track takes a unique standing point on the direction taken by SUB:STANCE over the years however they all remain within the boundaries of the brand's focus. The final couple of offerings finish the album on a dance-floor happy high which ensures we leave with a great impression and want to come back again.
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