Published March 31, 2015
Over the past few years, the dance music consciousness has seen drum and bass make a return from the wilderness (cue hordes of hardcore DnB fans going “What? It never went away! etc…”), with new kids and older producers who’ve kept the faith reheating, recalibrating and reworking those old jungle and drum and bass sounds.
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While many seem merely satisfied with chopping up dusty old amen breaks to scoop out those last residues of old skool roughage, some producers still try to project forward, keeping one eye up to the cosmos. Subminimal (aka Tjörvi Óskarsson) belongs in the latter group, one of the few Icelandic producers making drum and bass music (the only others being the Tjörnin crew). ‘Sinian’, released on Möller records, marks his debut full length following on from his 2012 ‘Micro–fluidics’ EP.
Like ‘Microfluidics’, ‘Sinian’ forsakes today’s idea of DnB as a red-lining beast stuffed with continuous Molly-spazzed drops, instead being more concerned with the idea of “space” both in terms of sci-fi and á la dub space. Along with tracks titles such as “Lunar,” “Carbon,” and “Enun,” there are the prerequisite dark synth sounds and notes of doom emanating from ye olde abandoned space station. ‘Sinian’’s first few tracks do provide some signs of inspiration from/fealty to those 90s rave sounds, from the cosmic pad progression in “Lunar,” to the cheekily blatant and rather meta sample-of-a-sample from FSOL’s “Papua new Guinea” on ‘Sinian’.
Once you’re reacquainted with his sound, the rest of ‘Sinian’ sees Subminimal stretching out and feeling into new dark spaces. His rhythms, always a plus, are much bolder, tighter, more ambitious, using mainly organic drum sounds to propel the music along. On tracks such as the “The Gang” and “Dense,” there’s a real sense of pull and release in the flow of the groove, with little stabs of dub pads adding to the unease. With precision-tooled slow burners such as “Constraint” and “Enun,” reminiscent of the music that DnB titans like dBridge have been releasing over the past few years, this is an album that understands that a powerful statement does not need be screamed in your face.
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