dBridge Move Way EP
It has been almost two decades since drum & bass emerged from the UK rave scene, and recent releases have found producers ranging from Deadboy to DJ Rashad experimenting with the sound in bracing ways. The latest offering from jungle stalwart dBridge—his first for Belgium's storied R&S label—focuses on the most intrinsic aspects of the genre, and seems poised to introduce his back catalog to a new generation of listeners that have been primed by its halting reemergence over the past couple of years. The Move Way EP isn't a formaldehyde-soaked throwback, though; it boils its premise down to the essential, and the results are impressively effective at avoiding formula in favor of something more imaginative.
The title track, a collaboration with Skeptical, superimposes a skeletal riddim over a vocal sample that talks of living under colonialism, being "held down by some spiritual vampires." Superficially, the track's militant, overdriven rhythm suggests the unyielding hardness of the neurofunk subgenre championed by the likes of Ed Rush & Optical, but a spray of details in the higher frequencies softens the blow, lubricating the grinding kicks and keeping the tune in harmony with the high stakes of the vocal. "Death of a Drum Machine," despite its foreboding title, eases up on the filter, revealing more texture in the sampled drums, although a damp paranoia still remains in the way dBridge strings together the remaining details—there's some interesting overlap between dBridge's take on UK hardcore and the cold-world vibes of hardcore New York rap. Closing track "Plain to See" spans icy minimal wave and the soft, puttering arpeggios of frequent collaborators Instra:mental for a kind of Kraftwerk-in-a-dancehall cooldown. While other producers are content to experiment with tirelessly looped Amen breaks, dBridge continues to push within the tradition, often to dazzling effect.
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