There are few drum and bass artists that are truly accepted across a multitude of styles and sub-genres. Calibre is almost certainly the apex of these select few. Another several blog posts could be written arguing about the other alumni of this club, but in this piece, I wish to suggest that Alix Perez is as good a bet as any another. His latest 8-track, Without End, is testament to this. The build-up and indeed acclaim to date feels very much as it did when his seminal 1984 album was released over a decade ago.
Whilst a shorter body of work than 1984 and his 2013 follow-up album Chroma Chords, Without End feels punchier for it; quality over quantity. Unlike his work above, Alix focuses purely on the 170 range, yet still encapsulates a variety of moods and vibes.
Sombre and melancholic tracks like the opener Wondering at Loss, Someone Else and the single Lost & Proud featuring the exceptionally talented Liam Bailey on vocals, are woven perfectly alongside more upbeat tracks like Moving On – again with Liam Bailey – and even the more style-agnostic Perfect Stranger with Halogenix. Distant Figures proves another highlight, featuring long-time friend and collaborator Workforce.
Despite these variations, Without End still feels like a holistic body of work, laced with the signature touches that make Alix Perez so universally adored. The deep sine wave basslines, the carefully measured and considered vocals – both sampled and recorded – and his elegant keys and chords, are clear and in abundance.
If 1984 was Alix Perez’ extraordinary freshman folio, and Chroma Chords his sophomore sound after several years of learning and devotion to his craft, Without End represents a most hard-earned (and quite long overdue) graduation ceremony into the genre’s hall of fame – if you still needed to be convinced, that is.
Written by James Austin
Sometimes a new genre or subgenre comes to prominence and it just feels like it was made for an existing artist to slot themselves into, and that couldn’t be more the case when it comes to EPROM and the new wonky, halftime, “20/20” sound that has been emanating from some corners of the D&B scene in recent times. Much as Bassnectar took to dubstep like a duck to water, the halftime style provides a perfect framework for EPROM’s swaggering, low-slung compositions and epic sound design.
His latest EP for Alix Perez’s 1985 Music carries on exactly where previous Shades outings and his recent Samurai EP left off; earth-shattering basslines, weird harmonics, glitchy designs and punchy percussion. Whether it’s on the stalking vibrations of Drone Warfare or the fuzzed out, wonked-up riddims of Raw Data this EP is just straight hench for the entirety of it’s 14 minute duration. Check it out below and hit up the label store to grab it on vinyl or digital right now.
Alix Perez has much of the drum and bass scene in the palm of his hand. With a career spanning 12 years he has constructed masterpiece after masterpiece across several different styles; Alix has come a long way from Get It On in 2005 and his latest EP Nighthawks is concrete evidence of that progression.
The EP features an enticing menu of sounds and vibes; Blip stands out as a harsh, stripped back stepper perfectly punctuated with one-shots and FX that give it texture and depth. Similarly, Lucky Charm has drum work that is characteristic of Alix’s output in recent years, matched to a rolling low-end that will see this track being reloaded again and again.
If steppers don’t tickle your fancy, there’s plenty more to satisfy your D&B cravings. The EP’s title track Nighthawks takes the listener down a deeper road, although that doesn’t tell the full story here. Nearly two minutes in the mids start to growl at you in this dBridge-esque way that remind you of the variety of sounds Perez is so adept at manufacturing.
Finally, for those that don’t have a taste for the darker sounds of the genre, there EP is rounded off by a killer collaboration with Javeon, which reminds me a lot of Alix’s earliest material. Javeon’s cool voice gives this tune an R&B vibe that rolls out endlessly; something achieved by only a handful of artists playing in that space.
So, the EP in a nutshell: something for everyone, but by no means generalistic. Alix Perez clearly demonstrates he is at home designing all styles and all vibes (although there is a notable absence of half time on this one). But after the musical journey he’s had and his rise to the top of the pile, he barely needs to demonstrate anything to anyone anymore.
Written by James Austin, aka DJ Auzi, label manager at Terabyte Records