We live in an era characterized by confusion where who we are and what we believe seems to be under constant attack. No sooner have we have nailed our colors to the mast, there is always someone trying to pry out the nail. We are bombarded with opinions and arguments that leave us outraged, despondent, and bewildered. This endless chatter of background noise can often feel as if its steadily swelling to become a maddening, deafening roar that threatens to overload our senses.
That build-up of inner tension and the charging whirl of jittery confusion is replicated on the debut album by DJ and producer Rizzla, Adepta. Built on samples designed to disorient the listener continually, Rizzla seems hell-bent on removing any familiarity or comfort, instead amplifying feelings of uncertainty and anxiety, almost imploring the listener’s sense of self to capitulate completely. It’s that rare album that takes the sounds shorn from techno, house, breakbeat, grime, dubstep, and acid house and fuses them together to create something wholly unique.
From the outset, it’s clear that this is not an album for the fainthearted. On opener “Full Body Realized”, Rizzla creates a thick, oppressive atmosphere from samples of howling wind and hellish screams before launching into a dense cluster of rapid-fire beats like an underworld rave. “Be a Boy” cleverly interposes a simple, pretty female vocal with stuttering samples all led by a surprisingly effective pan pipe hook. Marching beats and wailing sounds clatter into each other as if jostling for a place to fit. It’s a bold and brilliant piece as Rizzla welds the most disparate elements together, those parts that others would leave behind, to fabricate something wholly breathtaking.
“Adepta”“Adepta” mixes the crackle of grime beats and spacious post-dubstep synths with a shadowy, detached vocal sample that gradually hooks into your subconscious. The cacophonous storm of “Black Eye” hits like nothing you’ve heard before. Seemingly made up of salvaged beats, noises and samples it kicks with strutting, metallic percussion, rave vocals, air raid sirens and deep, animalistic like yawns. It’s a track that continually flirts with the edge as if daring itself to tumble into the abyss.
The shock and awe of “Link Me Up” maintain the attack with pulverizing beats, shocks of synths, and vocal samples as if picking up snippets of radio stations from distant shores. The swirling “Space Hulk” slows things down momentarily in warped, disorientating fashion with faltering samples chopped and spliced like a twisted, psychedelic nightmare. That proves only to be a short-lived pause signaled by the cracked, dystopian beats of “And Stay Down” that pick up speed to lead an intense army of howling synths, squeals, and quick-fire rave vocal samples. The sheer aural blitz quickly becomes almost overwhelmingly intense as the track draws strength from the shellacking of noise.
The smash and crash of “Inquisition” and “Test Man” take their cues from old-skool hardcore rave in all its bug-eyed, face-chewing glory. In particular, the bounding “Test Man” with its bright, bouncing keyboards chords and shuffling drum machines that evoke memories of those enormous warehouse parties that went on for days. Album closer “Dew Drop” ties the whole album together beautifully with intense, metallic beats, a 1980s synth line seemingly beamed in from the future and a fluid, heavily processed guitar line.
Adepta is nothing short of a full-on, multi-sensory assault that constantly threatens to tear itself apart. The music seems to be in a constant sense of flux as tracks continually disassemble and then reassemble themselves, rarely able to settle. It can be a brutal, jarring experience, akin to being thrust into a boxing ring with both hands tied behind your back. While often an agitated, uneasy listen, it’s also one of the most inventive and original albums that you’ll hear all year.