Posted by: Jimmy For Reals on February 16, 2014
It probably hasn’t escaped your notice that 2013 saw something of a renaissance for Jungle and Drum & Bass – you could argue that it didn’t need it, as certain single minded operators have been industriously mining away at rich seams of inspiration for years now, heedless of the changing seasons – but not since the rise of Dubstep has there been such excitement and innovation pouring forth from the veteran sibling genres. Ascendancies like this are often short lived, so it comes as no surprise that producers are joining the fray from all manner of disparate scenes. Whilst seasoned heads like Pritchard and Om Unit seem to have been merely biding their time and old hands like Fracture and Fanu have been drawing on other genres to re-energise their own productions, it’s also refreshing to hear relative newcomers bringing the pressure too.
Such is the case for Lee Bannon – known primarily for his Hip Hop productions – who has cranked out this upfront album of lean, seething drum & bass with a cinematic edge reminiscent of late 90’s innovators like Ed Rush & Optical and D Bridge. The beats are the toughest I’ve heard this side of the Millennium and whilst all the generic hallmarks are there, he’s carried over many of his own techniques that give the tracks an individual flavour of their own. 2012’s Fantastic Plastic was a frenzied mash up of low slung West Coast beats and bewildering, ambient cut and paste collages, as borderline schizoid as it was satisfying – and whilst that was a challenging listen Alternate/Endings manages to co-opt this experimental edge in a much more palatable way.
The pace is relentless from the outset; the opening assault of Resorectah fairly destroying the starting blocks with taut jungle snares and hyperactive chopped vocals before rolling seamlessly into NW/WB which sounds a like a bit like The Helicopter Tune brought bang up to date with whooping sirens and swirling synths. Don’t worry though – this no formulaic procession of stereotypical builds, drops and breakdowns – Bannon tempers his old school hat-tips by abstracting the beats and bringing atmospheric washes and dreamlike chords into the mix. It doesn’t all work perfectly, but when it does it works well; 216 ties an archetypal piano lick to trap-esque rimshots before rolling into brooding amens and a snarling bassline, and Prime/Decent pivots around a thunderous break whilst submerged rave vocals echo up from the void below, like ghosts of the past crying out to be heard again.
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