Pink Floyd’s The Wall combined conformity, artistic indecision, depression, and the horror that society control us more than we control it. Rarely do I hear such insight and feeling put into anything, much less a genre famous for consistent beats and repetitiveness. I mean, that’s the point, right? Keep it the same - almost like a dance trance - to block out all the absurdity and the spectacle that life is. Then comes along InsideInfo and a fourteen, FOURTEEN, track LP that never loses itself. It never falters, it never stops being fresh and original, and it sets the bar for anyone who thinks they can break into this field and make a difference in the sound. Let me tell you, if you can’t make drum and bass sound this good, you probably should go back to your day job, because this is the future of music. As BC9 says: “Drum and bass is the new jazz.”
Just so you know, I'm not going to review this entire album. I want to leave some really juicy stuff on here, but I want to hit the highlights as well. Let's hope you enjoy this adventure into the rabbit hole and decide to go in deeper on your own. Let's get to it!
If Flight of the Navigator was remade today, it would probably have a soundtrack that would include “Navigator.” The opening has sounds of NASA calling out to space against machine language squelches, some liquid tension building up with synthesizers, and while its calm it’s also got a sense of foreboding. This is layering at its best and it sounds incredible before even the first drop hits. The beat is sick, the synths are perfectly timed in connection with the bass and snares, and it’s almost a dialogue put to music. I can totally see the space ship literally rocking and grooving to this while laughing like Pee-Wee Herman. If you don’t get that reference, you seriously have lived under a rock and need to go watch Flight of the Navigator before it gets remade. ‘Cause it’s gonna get remade with the way things are looking now with Hollywood running out of ideas. Though honestly, if it has this sense of passion and layering, I’m all for it!
“Conformity” has got to be one my favorite pieces on this album because I love ironic statements and iconoclastic pieces of art. This piece is anything but conformist. I love the really basic up and down bass snare, like the push and pull of a tug-o-war game, or a pendulum keeping exact beat with the very subtle synth sounds in the background. I think of Blue Velvet and other David Lynch films that show show the veil that society hides its blackest depths behind. The last few seconds of conformity tell me everything as the synths almost seem to be laughing at those who think this is just a basic song. I could easily see this being a send-off to Dennis Hopper’s Frank Booth. It’s weird, it’s wicked, and it’s waiting for you to dig in just a little deeper.
I loved “Time Will Tell” featuring Tasha Baxter. I love how her voice is melodic, soft, and wavering while remaining powerful enough to be a driving force for the drum and bass beats. There’s a really interesting sound barely heard here that is very reminiscent of a buoy floating on the water emitting a signal, almost as though the listener is lost at sea and Tasha is reminding them it’s just a matter of time. The question is: what will time tell? Are we dying at sea or are we being rescued? Along with this burning question there are some great synthetic squelches that whisper in your ear, and combined with the soft voice and the drums this feels like the opera solo from the Fifth Element that seems to be so vastly different from the drums and then ends up leading them as all the action hits at once. This is a great piece, and while it isn’t exactly a heavy dance beat, I can totally see myself jamming out in my Prius with this. Yep, you heard me right, I have a Prius. Got a problem with that? I like the environment.
I think that my second favorite piece on this album has got to be “Glimpse.” It was released before the album and there’s a video for it you can watch below this review, but it wasn’t until I heard it along with everything else on the album that I started to get the message. The world that we see is only a glimpse and there’s so much more going on that we are missing. The drums in this beat are much heavier and the vocals by Fable are garbled and warbled just enough to give a really nice textured feel to the beats. This isn’t a standard club dance mix by any means - this is art, this is beauty, and we are only getting a glimpse of the talent these guys really have. By the second drop I’m on the edge of my seat because the sound changes to heavy synths and drums. The symmetrical glimpses of both heavy and light really come out to reveal the deeper message about taking your time to see things as they are, and that while you may think you understand something, the world is full of grey just as much as it is black and white
I saved the best for last with “2 Minds.” What stands out to me about this piece is the amount of sound that comes in. There are synthesizers that sound like muffled screaming, snare and bass drums, cymbals, windchimes, water flowing, and so many other great sounds that I don’t want to ruin for you. The screaming synthesizers are what spoke to me the most though, because we all have those moments where we are complacent, calm, like water flowing or wind chimes clinking together, and then out of nowhere it’s like the world comes down on us and all we can do is scream in our heads for fear someone might hear us. There’s a very calculated measure of beats in this track, and yet a playfulness and imaginative twinkling of potential just out of reach, like a left and right brain clashing together to get a single project done. It describes every great artist out there and it’s amazing.
Pick up the latest InsideInfo from Viper Recordings available now! Oh yeah, and don’t forget to light your fireworks as the spaceship flies over. It’s gonna need a landing zone as it comes in through time. Seriously? Dude. Go watch Flight of the Navigator before they remake it and stop looking at me like that.
InsideInfo is available now from Viper Recordings.