I encountered dubstep anthem “Traffic” on the most recent Planet-Mu compilation and it was enough to make me stop and pay attention. The song exists in the tension between a drum and bass section with all the vicious, wiry strength of slowed down tech step and a smooth melodic hook that seemed lifted from some kind of trance synth section. Together they looped on relentlessly, engaging despite the relatively minimal variation (basically addition and subtraction of those layers, with and without additional processing effects). The rest of the full-length debut, however, sticks a little too close to that template, reheating the techniques showcased on “Traffic” without ever quite equaling its growling menace. The sounds that are here (knifing bass blurts and huge, distorted snare hits) are crisp and visceral, but we’re rarely granted anything in the way of meaningful variation, with barely a bridge section or counter-melody to differentiate the progress of any given song. The results are heavy on the noir ambiance of rain-streaked nocturnal streets, and relatively low on actual content, the same sounds looping endlessly on overlong five minute songs, unameliorated by predictable cinematic sample use. Promising, perhaps, but disappointingly unambitious just now.
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// Notes from the Road
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