[30 July 2008]
It’s relatively pointless to complain about a lack of serious melodic structure in Dutch trio Noisia’s dark, break-based techstep: the point is the rush, with flatly bowel-shaking bass stabs playing a second banana in importance to the crisp, butcher-block beats. Both Fabric and the press have appointed Noisia young ambassadors of a jungle renaissance; to their credit, Noisia have perfected the formula for serviceable dark tek and jump-up tracks. A Noisia beat drops when it’s supposed it, features the appropriate horror/sci-fi soundtrack atmospherics, and distorts its bass.
Unfortunately, jump-up is not the most exciting of styles to adhere to, and the first half of FabricLive.40 is composed of largely indistinguishable tracks. Utilizing this CD as a chance to demonstrate both their mixing and production prowess, the vast majority of the selections here are either by Noisia themselves, or come from their in-house labels Vision and Division. Vision focuses on the aforementioned techstep sounds, and its tagged for most of the first half and final quarter of this mix. This isn’t to say that techstep is at all a bad genre; yes, it’s a bit limiting in the long run, but a well-played techstep track can making even the smallest sample or rhythmic switch-up feel downright epic. See the uncharacteristically cute vocal sample on Noisia’s “Diploducus (Dub)” for evidence of this.
The saving grace of FabricLive.40, however, comes when Noisia switch focus to the more “downtempo” (a bit uptempo from a techno and house standpoint, but downtempo relative to breaks) offerings from the Division label. It’s these pieces, mostly by Noisia, that merge electro-house basses with a more playful percussion programming. “Seven Stiches” makes great use of an ascending, ethereal violin riff to frame a track that’s simultaneously claustrophobic and banging. In the end, FabricLive.40 does what it needs to do: it announces Noisia has a production crew with great potential. For now, the mixing is still a bit too much on the safe and homogeneous side, but it’ll be interesting to see if Noisia can strike out from under the shell of techstep purity.