D/R/U/G/S The Source of Light
Euphoric is a tricky word to throw around when describing electronic music. With a few too many applications in the service of progressive house, its use carries some unnecessary baggage. And yet, that's one of the first signifiers that comes to mind when listening to "The Source of Light" from 22-year-old Mancunian Callum Wright (a.k.a. D/R/U/G/S). Over the course of his young career, the pliant producer has shown a keen agility, navigating his way through a body of work that is at once techy, worthy of a house set, referential of classic electronic acts like the Chemical Brothers, and as relevant in a bass-music context as it is when presented live in opening sets for new wave indie rockers Delphic. His is borderless electronic music, and that's what allows "The Source of Light" to brim with emotional upliftedness without taking on any of euphoria's negative connotations.
Though not as eclectic, another artist to have mastered the kind of emotive techno "The Source of Light" exemplifies is Kompakt's Gui Boratto, who's a clear inspiration here. With its indie bass thumbing, tech kick, and a melody that can only be described as soaring, not to mention its "You are not a machine" refrain, Wright's latest is undeniably influenced by Boratto standouts like "Beautiful Life" or "No Turning Back." The similarities are so uncanny, it would be the song's undoing if "The Source of Light" didn't manage to stack up to these forebears. Yet despite the obvious throwback, the rave-style piano and stadium-size drumming D/R/U/G/S channels on "The Source of Light" feel fresh.
These qualities carry right over into "One Thousand Faces," Wright's other original production here. Sounding like a missing link between John Talabot and Ewan Pearson, this second track burns slower, taking on color one gradient at a time as the warmth of a Rhodes gains a subtle acid squelch, tightly crackling drums, a barrage of varied bleeps, and new-age oohs and aahs. Between the escalating chord structure, atmospheric swooshes, and drive of the rhythm, there's no denying the progressive elements in "One Thousand Faces," but Wright has worked over the hypnotic qualities here, avoiding unwanted cliché.
Two remixes of "The Source of Light" also make the package, each warped for greater late-night appeal. London techno auteur Max Cooper keeps closer to the source, drawing out the radiant textures of the song's dominant vocal line and building the tension well into the four-minute mark before dropping into a warm pool of near-constant bass reverberations and splashes of his signature subtle drum programming. Carefully tinkering with the original, Cooper's remix is ultimately more of a fine tuning than a dramatic recreation. That task has been left to Fabric staple Daniel Avery, who lends his remix a live bassline and drum pitter-patter that would make the Glimmers itch with envy. Avery's cosmic rerub glides along like a spaceship sightseeing among the stars, as its stuttering synth arpeggios, celestial strings, and glowing atmospherics all drip with euphoria. D/R/U/G/S may defy easy categorization with his diverse productions, but whether in his own hands or those of well-chosen remixers, there's a constant sense of massaging warmth on The Source of Light—and in this case at least, it's a not a bad thing.
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