Brian Durr (a.k.a. BD1982, a moniker that combines his initials and year of birth) is a producer, label co-owner, touring DJ, and a man familiar with foreign environments. The artist's latest EP for his Diskotopia label, Casings—which is available in a four-track vinyl version and a more substantial seven-track digital version—presents itself as a pastiche of his diverse musical tastes; the record finds him pulling from dancehall, grime, techno, and '90s-era rap, and fashioning them together into his own particular strain. Coming shortly after Durr's return to his native New Jersey following an extended stint in Japan, Casings offers an intriguing formula, but the results sometimes come across like a work in progress.
The EP does start strong with the digital-only "Bakkwaa," a cut of codeine dancehall with a rhythm that harkens back to jock-jams rap without sounding dated. Liberal use of filters, delay, and reverse effects lends the song's pads an ultra-processed, massaged quality that gels well with the 808 cowbell tone placed daintily at the end of every few measures. Other instances of smart genre blending include "Writuals"—where spooky, impalpable pads overtake the track's robo-Caribbean vibe—as well as digital-only cut "The Ground Opens," which employs a sluggish dancehall foundation with a tonal fidelity reminiscent of Actress' lo-fi experiments.
Reaching for fresh, hybrid forms, Casings' intentions are commendable, but its ambitions tend to exceed the end product—some offerings might have been better left in the sketch phase. The title track, for example, feels half-baked in its ambient presentation, with a Burial-like textural aura that sounds mundane despite its sonic intricacy. "Blessed" recalls Martyn's Ghost People in its rave-inspired, alternate vision of the future, but the track stays in one stagnant pattern for its duration. "Blud" harnesses a sinister vocal sample and mewling siren tones to great effect, but the beat has no backbone, presenting a scattershot rhythm that doesn't quite congeal. Durr may be on to something with this sort of experimentation, but in the future, he might be better served by keeping his creations in the oven a bit longer.
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