Echoing pads and ambience interrupted as drums punch through the fog like being hit over the head with a steel flashlight. Dark drum & bass with a half-tempo style executed effortlessly.
Favorite track: Loxodonta.
This was the track that essentially inspired me to start working on an album. This is purely because the tune was a summative statement for my production and it acted as the wax seal on my musical manifesto - I want to make dark, atmospheric drum & bass, the likes of which has been pushed beneath the thick surface of the 'loudness war' of modern 'darkstep' (a subgenre I don't like to label my production with). For this tune, I began by distorting and automating a sine based sub, followed by some playing around with various borrowed hardware to filter and twist up the bass that bookends each 8 bars. I wrote this at a time I was heavily inspired by music outside of drum & bass, and I wanted to experiment with texturing and foley recordings. I approached the production with my manifesto in mind, that music needn't be coloured to the point of over production to push an idea forward - eventually I settled on using my own voice as both a foley recording and a texture, which strings the rest of the tune together well.
Puncture (feat. Kitech)
I wrote this after having been sent a project by Declan that included the beautiful synth melodies showcased in the intro, during the body of the first drop and most notably through the breakdown. It's a lo-fi melody that screams to 'LAYER ME', and can work at any stage in a composition, so I exploited that - I decided it would work as the backbone of the rest of the tune. The original beat was incredibly irregular and much less saturated, but the progression in structure came naturally - bouncing ideas off each other for this tune was a really fun process.
This piece, like Steel Behemoth, was based around synth work - the bass inserts were inspired by the spacial awareness showcased in minimal techno, so I wanted to stay true to this blueprint in the general aesthetic. I decided on using a snappy snare and layering it with a tonal element - in this case, the percussive siren sound. This idea is carried out much more aggressively on the second drop as the focus switches after removing the gated rides for the first 16 bars.
Convergence (feat. Peter Kurten)
Convergence is something of a joker card in the deck. It opens up with consciously selected flute trills, inspired by mine and Pierre's shared love for the more traditional oriental culture. This texture was complimented well by woodblocks as it made the introduction much more tangible (especially with the swamp-like atmospherics). The progression of this idea meant that to vary the arrangement and maintain the sound, pitching and swing was ideal which eventually meant the production leant itself to the more 'minimal' aesthetic that is increasingly popular in drum & bass (while retaining the undeniably dark edge).
This was just after I bought my new microphone and I was really excited to see how it fared with recording and acoustic readings - the finger snap is my fingers, and I was really blown away by the recording. For this tune, the prime element is contrast. Saturated, stomping, almost hardcore kicks, paired with aggressive swoops and scraping metal breaks contrasted perfectly with the finger snap being given it's own beat to reverberate naturally.
'Manifest' is an exercise in cinematic atmospherics coupled with relentless kicks, parallel compressed and distorted rides, pitched reeses and classic hollow snares. I wanted to drop a tune into the album that revisited my origins in dark drum & bass production, when I thought saturation and confined spaces were the defining features of the genre - this tune is more for shock factor and dance floor destruction - watch the second drop.
20 Days (feat. Miss Lil L)
The plan for 20 Days was to create a break oriented tune that paid homage to Miss Lil L's almost 'oldschool' tinged sound, paralleled with my more visceral snare-led style. The piano elements were added after the tune was effectively completed and they added tastefulness and believability far beyond either of our imaginations.
Originally called 'The Visitor', I wrote this tune to commemorate another element that has become lost on the modern generation of 'darksteppers' - this element is the far underestimated melody. Melodic leads were what gave most dark drum & bass tunes their appeal, in retrospect: for example, the Dom & Roland remix of Hidden Sound by Technical Itch, Empty Studio by Limewax & SPL and many many more of the original cast of dark drum & bass pioneers. I really wanted to try to open myself up to an archaic element, and to open up the minds of my listeners.
Defiled Beauty (feat. Centaspike)
The creative guidance on 'Defiled' was always such that we wanted to push the Aggressor sound - creative texturing, meticulous tweaks, intense panning and pitching accompanied by cold synth textures and glitched out bridges. The third drop on this piece is an incredibly apt summary of the sound we're trying to push.
Cold Dead Eyes (feat. Of God)
Ahhh, Of God! In my humble opinion, there's not many fresh producers these days that can write a bass that can lead a tune quite as potently as these two. Chris and Joshua were sick of me constantly bugging them for project files (I think) and sent me through this jaw-dropper of a bassline along with a rough guide of what they were going for. I took this bass and built around it, following it fairly closely with the kick pattern, essentially using it as a blue print for a familiar and distinguishable beat structure.
A Means To An End
This tune was my first attempt at cross-genre experimentation, but to be perfectly honest, I don't know what borders I was trying to cross with this one. I don't know what genre I've ended up with. It was heavily inspired by artists such as Igorrr and King Cannibal and it's pretty evident. For those of you that want to mix this tune, I wish you the best - it's 220BPM and written in 3/4 time signature - good luck!
Symphonium (feat. Susiah)
The closing tune, 'Symphonium', was originally built to be a hair raising allusion to the twisted melodies created by music boxes in a different context. I approached Agnieszka (who, I can quite honestly say has one of the most beautiful voices I've heard of late) with this 120BPM bass project, which eventually became a creeping, stuttering joint. Her vocal work tied the project together beautifully, and this tune would be next to nothing without her input. I gave her the strict artistic direction to, 'do whatever you want', that she did, but incredibly tactfully, keeping the title relevant. After processing the vocals for different segments of the tune using granular repeat and drone texturing along with reverse reverb, it produced a spine chilling result. I couldn't think of a better track to end the album with.