Altered Natives (a.k.a. Danny Yorke) does not fuck around. When the UK producer puts out an album, there's no big PR campaign or drawn-out attempt to build hype. The man just drops tunes, and lots of them. His latest full-length, Tenement Yard Volume Two, features 15 tracks and clocks in at more than 90 minutes. For many artists, this would constitute some kind of all-encompassing anthology. For Danny Native, it sounds like just another day at the office.
An album this big runs a severe risk of bloat, but the second installment of Tenement Yard is remarkably consistent all the way through. While many producers would have been tempted by the extra runtime and foolishly delved into new sounds, Native appears to have largely put his head down and done what he does best: create propulsive, hard-edged house tunes with an unwavering eye towards the dancefloor. Per usual, the music isn't big on melody; apart from some background atmospherics, some well-employed synth stabs, and the occasionally bouncy bassline, this record is all about the drums. The music is dark, the rhythms are sweaty, and even when the sounds are distorted, the fuzzy crackle only adds to the overall atmosphere. Tunes like "Burnout," "Shake That," "Earthlings," and album opener "Loved By Few" are all particularly strong, as their clacking drums, chunky basslines, and regular nods to vintage house music are all perfectly suited for peak time on a packed dancefloor.
Yet Tenement Yard Volume Two is not a one-trick pony. While Native never misplaces the groove, several offerings on the LP do find him going a bit deeper. Songs like "Illuminate," "Die 4 U," and "Wasteman of Love" all employ his usual formula, but also dial down the kick drums and allow the music to breathe a bit, creating an introspective vibe and providing an interesting counterpoint to Native's more upfront productions. Other selections on the LP take even larger departures, as the spacey synths on "Womb" and "Can't Trust Myself to Trust You" recall Underground Resistance-style techno, while "Legendary Suffering" experiments with garage drum patterns. Make no mistake, it all still sounds like Altered Natives, but Native is comfortable enough to expand his sonic palette without losing his way. It's something that only a veteran producer can pull off—and experience alone is no guarantee of success—but Native is clearly in top form. Tenement Yard Volume Two is incredibly solid, and undoubtedly should be viewed as one of the top albums of the year.