Benjamin Damage & Doc Daneeka They!Live
On They!Live, UK producers Benjamin Damage and Doc Daneeka continue to find the point at which the former's rolling techno sensibilities meet with the latter's percussive house inclinations. Expanding on the "Creeper" b/w "Infamous" single, the pair's first collaborative LP presents eight new tracks (and one album edit of the aforementioned "Creeper") that voyage into continually deeper territory, and, surprisingly, the results are not always aimed at the dancefloor.
From beginning to end, They!Live is impeccably produced—the synth tones are rich and distinct, the bass full and heavy, and the drums so precise that the music takes on a truly textural quality. As the album unfolds, one thing becomes clear—when this pair hits the right mark, the results are just about as good as that of anyone currently crafting techno-infused bass music. "Creeper," which originally saw a release back in March of last year, is undeniably still a banger, and the new album edit weaves even more crescendoing sequences amongst the shimmering hats, bouncing toms, and swinging snares. In the same vein, They!Live offers tracks like "Juggernaut" and "Elipsis Torment," both of which rely on relatively simple patterns and collections of propulsive drums to angle them towards the futuristic side of the dancefloor.
Damage and Daneeka manage to place an unexpected moodiness between these more club-oriented offerings, putting together a number of tracks that land somewhere within amorphous post-dubstep territory. Fortunately, this yields only one major misstep on the yawn-worthy "Battleships," a cut that features an adequate vocal performance from Abigail Wyles (who contributes to a total of three songs on the record), but fails to culminate into anything substantial and appears way too early in the track order (second) to really make much sense. That said, Wyles and company do connect on the LP's opening track, "No One," which utilizes a slow, somber build before transforming into a deep, rolling techno/bass-music hybrid, ultimately making for They!Live's standout new offering. The other mood-tinged productions vary in their aim, but nonetheless add to the record. "Charlottenburg" employs a glorious procession of sticky synths for a skittering UK-style tune that, to its credit, never fully erupts. "Halo," which again features the processed vocals of Wyles, is the LP's only true "song," and the subdued feel, and light, cloud-like production makes for a enveloping experience.
As the album's far-too-short closing number, "Bleach & Penicillin," takes the listener through one last run of emotive house, They!Live reveals itself as more of a collection of tracks than a proper album. And although those tracks are, for the most part, quality undertakings, and the LP does maintain a consistently stark and somber mood, the shifting tempos and styles on They!Live do detract from its natural momentum. It's a solid effort, and one with some ace tunes that will certainly be snapped up by intrepid DJs, but as a full-length, it might be better with a reorganized tracklist in your iTunes music folder.
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