Nphonix Tactix EP
After putting in years as a prolific drum & bass producer, Moscow's Nphonix takes on a slower range of tempos for Tactix, an EP full of strong-armed house and techno hybrids which comes as the next unpredictable turn in the growing discography of Amsterdam's Audio Culture imprint.
It's not hard to hear Nphonix's D&B roots on the tunes offered here—these are powerful dancefloor weapons which fit an almost overwhelming amount of sinister textures and tough rhythms into their runs. In this way, the EP seems as if it should be overcrowded, but somehow, the songs do not appear needlessly full. Nphonix's work is far from lean or efficient, but every part serves its purpose, even if it only appears for a few bars. There is also a familiar D&B singe that can heard throughout Tactix, as many of the elements come with just a touch of distortion; the slowed and chopped drum breaks, the thick synth pads, and the low-end gurgles all sound as if they were pushed slightly into the red, resulting in a layer of fuzz that coats the entire EP.
Despite the 130-bpm range being a bit foreign to the Russian producer's established discography, Nphonix sounds at home on the EP's three tracks (five for those who grab the digital version). The title tune wraps overdriven bits of space-age FX around a bottom-heavy shuffle, its rhythm occasionally derailing but never falling fully off course, while "Naimina (Dub Version)" dives the deepest of all with its dubbed-out chords and propulsive, subterranean kick-and-hat pattern. But the standout tune is "Don't I Feel," the housiest of the three efforts and a track which takes its name from a prominently featured pitched vocal sample. Between the constant swirl of crackling chords, the eventual appearance of a sequenced synth melody, and the enticing shuffle which morphs throughout, "Don't I Feel" is bound to serve DJs well, especially when sitting alongside tracks with a similar intensity and sonic weight, such as Joy O and Boddika's collaborative works or the more recent outings of Cosmin TRG. The entire EP makes its point, but "Don't I Feel" in particular will have many hoping that Nphonix's attraction to the techno and house bpm range results in another EP or two before the year is through.
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