Sunday, 1 November 2009
PRE-ORDER: Instra:mental - Leave It All Behind/Forbidden [Apple Pips]
Both Appleblim’s Apple Pips label and London duo Instra:mental have pretty flawless track records, so it was always unlikely that a collision between the two would be anything less than worthwhile. The only real difficulty was going to be in following up their last release on Nonplus+, ‘Watching You’ b/w ‘Tramma’, arguably this year’s finest 12” (a statement that should not be taken lightly). With their origins in the group of producers currently managing to inject drum ‘n’ bass with a much-needed shot of originality, musicality and relevance, ‘Watching You’ was still a revelation. A deceptively simple structure belies its intelligence: skittery breaks skate across its surface, lending minute intricacies to a relatively straightforward rhythm, whilst dBridge’s angelic vocals play tag with a jagged, ascending synth melody that draws a line straight into the night sky. It evokes a sense of violent nostalgia, for midwinter train journeys, for nights spent dancing with the perfect group of people and for the shared camaraderie of the morning after’s crash.
If ‘Watching You’ reshaped d’n’b as an emotional force to be reckoned with, ‘Tramma’ on the flip did the same for dubstep, a gradually evolving perpetual motion machine akin to the slow-mo transformations of Peverelist or Appleblim’s later work for Skull Disco. In keeping with the rest of the Apple Pips roster then this 12” picks up where ‘Tramma’ left off - at the burgeoning void defining the border between dubstep and house. The appropriately titled ‘Leave It All Behind’ retains barely a semblance of Instra:mental’s parent genres, instead melding their signature vocoders and dystopian atmosphere to a curling four-four pulse.
By way of contrast, ‘Forbidden’ places itself firmly in experimental dubstep/techno crossover territory, its ambient pads and imaginary garage beat bringing to mind Scuba’s ‘Negative’. Yet stripped of ‘Negative’’s distinctly human element, ‘Forbidden’ is mechanical and hypnotic, a lurching cycle of rhythmic elements that swarm at the borders of consciousness, leaving an eerie feeling of foreboding once it tails off.
Words: Rory Gibb