You could call the mid-to-late-'00s a gilded era for beat experimentation. It's as if the seeds planted in the '90s by labels like Mo’ Wax, Ninja Tune and Ubiquity, and nurtured in the early aughts via outlets like LA’s Low End Theory party, have germinated into a garden of innovative pan-genre delights. Nowadays, artists who disregard bpm conventions and pigeonholes —think Machinedrum, Floating Points or FaltyDL—aren’t outliers but headliners. This milieu has made it much easier for producers like St. Petersburg, Russia’s Dimitry Kuzmin to flit from skewed house to hybrid drum & bass effortlessly on his productions as Nuage.
Kuzmin’s had ample practice to hone his rhythm dexterity the past six years, and shown mastery on recordings like She Said for Roche Musique and the vinyl-only gem Forgotten Tones on Audio Plants. His latest eight-song effort showcases a broad range of BPMs and artistic moods and employs layering, filtering, samples and myriad production techniques to elegant effect.
Neida is described in press materials as inspired by an adventure tale involving ocean crossings, and journeys through forests and mountains while battling natural forces. Though Kuzmin certainly traverses broad rhythmic terrain, the tracks are focused affairs—no epic drops or unnecessarily heavy affectations. Take “Haunting,” for example, a taut house track that dips and bobs fluidly, textured by vocal snippets and echoing synths shards. “Overflow” and digital bonus track “Erased” also explore housey landscapes with wide open sonic scenery and serene production elements.
Kuzmin’s strongest work comes when he branches further afield, into dBridge-style intricate, unconventional d&b on tracks like “Spring Ghosts” and the album title track. Those tracks brim with crackling energy and special magic—complex drum patterns skitter like skipping stones, with melodic layers shimmering like ripples in their wake. On these numbers, the space in between each beat is as important as what comes after, and each synth layers is applied in colorful, abstract brushstrokes—and you can still nod your head to it.
Neida does represent a journey through its various tempos and eclectic styles—but also from the audio experimentation of the past to the total beat freedom and expansiveness of electronic music today. The future will be full of similar outbound adventures, and Nuage shows us that he’s more than a worthy soul to travel these new routes.