The latest from Kastle's Symbols imprint presents a lesser-seen side of North Carolina duo Clicks & Whistles. Having demonstrated an ability to produce credible material in a wide range of genres (and be hosted by a number of different labels), it is not entirely surprising to see the pair tackle a new sound with the 2 Much Higher EP, a release which joins classic drum & bass elements with a bass-music education. However, this dynamic range exploration may be a case of "too much too soon," as polished production seems to take precedence over songwriting.
Clicks & Whistles develops a deep brooding backdrop on the EP's percussive opener and title track. Rave stabs punch with the resonant attack of an organ, providing a drawn-out progression that serves as an underpinning for glimmering arpeggio flourishes. The punchy bassline follows suit, riding the root of each stab and echoing the same syncopation. This aligning of elements strikes at the core of the EP—everything sits a little too closely together, and the moments of variation suffer from a lack of impact as a result.
"Hightower" also flexes some rave mementos, replete with a pre-D&B tempo Amen break and some choppy vocal clips. Yet the similar '90s break of "Waiting 4" is the real standout moment, with plenty of high-energy rinse-out underlined by dancefloor-centric sub-bass. Toronto's XI brings the otherwise syncopation-heavy EP into codeine-friendly territory, rounding out the record by giving the title track a sparse, half-time feel that smacks of Deep Medi output, albeit with a more menacing lilt.
Clicks & Whistles builds tension with expertise, but there isn't a moment of great dynamic shift that lends weight to these tracks as compositions. One can't really find fault with an infrastructure that has trickled down through decades of loop-based music, but it feels like Clicks & Whistles is reaching towards something grander—and ultimately falling short—with these individual pieces. The group has the chops for outstanding work, but perhaps hasn't yet found a way to consistently hone its experimentations into exceptional moments. If the duo can someday find a way to pare down its style into a proper craft, there won't be much holding these guys back.