subota, 11. svibnja 2013.

DjRum - Seven Lies (2013)

Djrum tells Seven Lies

Novi korak za dub step. 
Suvremeni urbani zombijevski život tretiran kao kanjon.

The UK producer Felix Manuel aka DjRUM is back, after  2011′s Mountains EP, with his debut full length work inspired by “the rawness of urban London” and the likes of Portishead, DJ Shadow and The Cinematic Orchestra. Jungle, dub techno, broken beat, dubstep are combined to sum up a Ninja Tune inspired story started in 90s and which will last forever in all of us, suburban zombies. Memories, widescreen atmospheres, dub chords, dusty and melancholic strings and obscure film samples for an album out on April 21 via 2nd Drop. DjRUM also appears with track Blue On Blue (Voodoo) in the English label’s first compilation titled Future Foundations (out now). -

Debut album of crisp dub-tech emissions from Djrum, new on 2nd Drop. It’s easy to see why people like Gilles Peterson and Francois K are fans of this British producer: though the reverbs are canyon-sized and the drums hit hard, the atmospheres evoked are slick, soulful, sophisticated. Check the jazzwise ‘Comos Los Cerdos' or the Nina-Simone-goes-DMZ swellings of ‘Honey’, all served up with melancholy strings, obscure soul and film samples and a generous blowback of hash smoke. The guest turns from female vocalist Shadowbox, a vocal dead ringer for Nicolette, only add to that sense of introspective 90s beatscaping updated for a contemporary sensibility. Best cut on the album for us is ‘Arcana (Do I Need You)’ a glossy but brukked-out steppa later reprised as Deepchord-meets-Burial cold-world ambient. - bomkat

As evidenced by his fine debut album Seven Lies, DjRum (real name Felix Manuel) is part of a new wave of electronic producers pushing the music to its next level. Their music is informed by multiple genres such as dubstep, house, two-step, and garage, which they're adept at integrating into personalized hybrids. Often deployed as loops that ground a track and give it colour and richness, samples are incorporated, not for novelty effect but as integral parts of a track's textural and compositional design. These are producers, in other words, whose skills are so well-honed their gear becomes a fluid extension of their creative and production processes.
On the fifty-four minute recording, myriad vocal and instrumental elements swim organically through the music in a way that suggests DjRum's approach is reminiscent of Portishead's in the dedication to texture and atmosphere shared by both acts. Blunted hip-hop is also part of the DjRum sound, and one hears echoes of DJ Shadow in a few of the cuts, too. “DAM,” for example, oozes a bit of a trip-hop vibe in its downtempo opening section, and there's no lessening of atmospheric haze in the more energized parts that follow in the nine-minute opus.
DjRum's polished sound is well-represented by “Obsession,” an infectious body-shaker informed by garage and house and whose serpentine funk groove is nicely peppered by keyboard stabs. Earworm voice samples and sirens intermingle during “Como Los Cerdos” while a dubby bass line and smoky, head-nodding beat lay out a smooth bottom end. During “Arcana (Do I Need You),” a female singer's soulful refrain imbues the driving pulse, as indebted to Detroit techno as Chicago house, with humanity, while a cello's vocal-like cry adds to the track's expansive character. It's a move repeated later in “Thankyou” when the tune's jittery jungle-inflected pulse is augmented by a violin's sweetly singing lines.
As one would expect, much of the album's material is rhythm-focused, with the tracks' clubby snap drawing from techno, house, jungle, broken beat, garage, and drum'n'bass. On sonic terms, Seven Lies can be transfixing, such as when “Anchors” overlays its frothy deep house with soaring vocal ululations (by ShadowBox) that seem to dissolve like smoke into Manuel's billowing atmospheres. Dense it might be, but his music, filled as it is with strings, female murmurs, harps, and other sounds, never collapses into incoherence.  -

On the surface, Felix Manuel’s output as Djrum seems to capture the zeitgeist of ‘post-dubstep’ or whatever other tag gets applied to that particular spin-off from the original bassweight sound. The melancholic chords, displaced vocal snippets and crisp beats are certainly not on their own in these times, and previous singles for On The Edge and Smokin’ Sessions tapped into this idea with aplomb. Now settled nicely into 2nd Drop Records with two EPs behind him, Manuel delivers his debut album and in turn gets to expand on the more unique facets in his sound.
The same trick appears in “Honey” where a distant sample of reggae horns drifts in and out of the mix along with crafty drops of Indian strings, while all around mechanical bass and hyper-detailed beats fit and start in a drawn-out dubstep groove. It speaks volumes for the skill Manuel has in terms of production, blending such disparate elements into a flawlessly smooth finish, while keeping the track dynamic and engaging throughout. There’s also a pleasing willingness to mix up the tempos within tracks, as on the deft switch-up that takes place in “DAM”. Starting off on a tweaked hip hop beat, Manuel gently teases the track towards a bass-rich breakdown which then starts up again in a snappy new suit at 140 bpm, sending the track pirouetting off on a wholly other tangent.One element which has always stood out in Manuel’s music is his use of instrumentation, and on tracks such as album opener “Obsession” you can find yourself revelling in the lingering power of the forlorn strings which sit on top of the breakdown without even realising what the sound is. Rather than some brazen slap-down of this cello or that clarinet, Manuel has a real gift for weaving these more organic elements into the crisp digitalisms of the rest of the track.
While these are all smart tricks that demonstrate the skill Manuel has been honing, they are merely vessels for the vibe that he brings. It’s an immersive one from the off, perpetually tapped into that melancholic vein that can elicit emotive music at every turn. Were it not for his careful use of traditional instrumentation, Seven Lies might drift somewhat amidst the melee of producers doing similar things.
Certainly it would be interesting to see Manuel experiment with different temperaments in his music, and tracks such as Autonomic-powered album closer “Thankyou” hint towards other possibilities for his sound, but it seems clear that he has found a style that works for him, and he seeks to explore every possibility within it. While it may deliver the same feeling in many places throughout, in the end such an approach leaves Seven Lies as a thoroughly cohesive, immersive body of work. - Oli Warwick

DJRum - Mountains EP image

Mountains EP (2011)

Strong and diverse single from DjRum, following a killer remix of LV and Message To Bears with a mixture of hi-Tech Rollers, Juke and emo Garage with detailed compositional flourishes. 'Undercoat' sets the tone with low-lit pads and vocals giving way to sleek stepping rhythms, finely balanced for club or home play. The centrepiece 'Mountains' shows a keener Technoid vocabulary, with Part 1 exhibiting flash, fluid Techno steppers programming with warm, jazz touches hitting the mark between Scuba and Shifted, while Parts 2 & 3 merge loping HipHop into quickstepping Juke momentum with swirling atmospheres, kinda like Blue Daisy jacked up on meth. 'Turiya' is sweeter cool-out 2-step joint with textured Burial-esque finish applied to crisp, classic-referencing 2-step Rave. - boomkat

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