Q&A: Akuratyde

Since bursting onto the scene in 2015 via EPs for Silk Recordings & Blu Mar Ten Music, Akuratyde (aka Dan Eshleman) has moved from strength to strength with more releases on BMTM, frequent collaborations with Monika, new projects in the form of 3VS and Vex Seven and starting the excellent Modern Conveniences imprint. He returns to Blu Mar Ten Music this month with his second LP Home Movies, so Hex grabbed a few minutes of his time to dig into the album, collaborations, studio gear and more.

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DNB Dojo Mix Series 97: Akuratyde

Our latest guest mix comes from LA-based producer Akuratyde! With three exceptional releases under his belt for Blu Mar Ten Music and some excellent remixes for the likes of Soulvent and Locked Concept, he’s one of the most exciting producers in the deep and melodic end of 170, as evidenced by a mix that takes in the likes of Bop, Margari’s Kid and Djrum alongside plenty of his own productions. Chilled vibes for your weekend!

As always you can check out the mix via Soundcloud below or head to Youtube or iTunes to stream. You can also grab a download from Google Drive.

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Akuratyde – Past Lives LP [Blu Mar Ten]

When it comes to pristine A&R, Blu Mar Ten Music might just be the most consistent label in the scene. Chris’s knack for signing innovative artists to produce albums is pretty much unparalleled, and every single one has been superb, from the cinematic depths of Conduct, to the eclectic sounds of Kimyan Law and through the dark jazz of RQ. Now we can add another name to that list, as Akuratyde drops his debut long player for the label following on from his excellent Embrace EP back in 2015.

Tonally the album occupies a similar space to that EP; a mixture of natural instrumentation and synthetic elements, soft but warm tones, and bright, uplifting atmospheres. Where the LP differs though is in the tempo and energy of the compositions – where Embrace leaned towards the ultra-deep, autonomic-esque end of the beat spectrum, Past Lives isn’t afraid to bring in more up-tempo percussion and heavier bassline elements.

That trademark Akuratyde depth is still present though, and while there are more obviously “drum & bass” numbers by way of Monika collab Come True and sublime break-driven roller Lost Summer, the rest of the tracks tread that middle ground between more autonomic and even ambient territory and full tempo rollers, with breathtaking results.

Overall this is a stunning debut from a producer who can make detailed and intricate compositions sound gliding and effortless, and despite the obvious production effort that’s gone into the album it never feels over-engineered; no mean feat in the current age of D&B. Check out the previews below and hit up the BMT store to grab a copy on vinyl or digital now.

RQ – Season of the Emergence EP [Blu Mar Ten Music]

A new release on Blu Mar Ten Music is pretty much always a cause for celebration, and their latest material from Kiwi producer RQ is no different, though it’s certainly a step away from the label’s usual fare.

Drawing influence from the likes of Photek, Source Direct and Blocks and Escher, RQ’s latest work (ahead of an album due on the label at some point in the future) is tense and ominous. Three of the four tracks are powered by a backbone of intricate percussion, with an array of finely processed breaks skittering in and out of the mixes. Building on top of the militant drum section, there are hints of psychedelia, touches of jazz, and a flirtation with melody that feels faintly threatening. Uplifting liquid this is most certainly not.

We could waffle on about the depth and emotional resonance of the tracks on show here but it feels complex and elusive enough that we’ll never do it justice, so just wrap your ears around the clips below instead. The EP is out now at the Blu Mar Ten Store.

Conduct – Oma LP [Blu Mar Ten Music]

Just over a year on from their superb debut LP for Blu Mar Ten Music, Conduct are back to the label for a second LP. After the varied delights and beautiful atmospheres of Borderlands, how well will the duo cope with the so called ‘difficult second album’?

Pretty well, it turns out. The guys haven’t rested on their laurels at all, and they’ve found time to explore some different sounding rhythms while still retaining that detailed, cinematic quality that defined the previous album. From the obvious rock influences on intro track Welcome In, to the shades of Burial and Frederic Robinson on the breathtakingly beautiful Out of the Blue and out into the aggy, staccato gut punches of RDM, there’s a positive smorgasbord of sonic delights to be found here.

The only possible complaint upon the first couple of listens is that the album perhaps doesn’t seem as cohesive as its predecessor; every track sounds distinctively Conduct, but the segues from one to the next sometimes jar slightly. Maybe this will ease with familiarity, and this is certainly an album we’ll be getting more familiar with over the next few months.

Oma is out now on Blu Mar Ten Music; hit up the label store to grab a copy on vinyl, CD or digital now.

Tim Reaper – All Right / Innerspace [Blu Mar Ten Music]

Tim Reaper joins the Blu Mar Ten Music family with two sublime jungle outings, taking us back to the sounds of the early 90s in superb style. A-side All Right is pure euphoria, with a soft, bleepy melody and pitched up vocal hook layered over chunky breaks and warm sub hits for a disarmingly simple yet utterly beautiful track. This one evokes memories of simpler times…

Over on the flip Reaper joins forces with Parallel for the deeper, darker Innerspace. Hard amens, gunshot FX and classic ragga samples get things off to a flying start in the first half, while shimmering pads in the back end of the tune progress the vibes into a more atmospheric, faintly psychedelic ebb. Nostalgia for sure, but difficult to argue with when it’s done so well!

All Right / Innerspace is out now on Blu Mar Ten Music. Hit up their Bandcamp Store to grab the digital direct or start scouring Discogs if you want a copy of the vinyl…

Blu Mar Ten – Empire State [Blu Mar Ten Music]

Whether it’s in their capacity as label curators or as artists in their own right, we’re big fans of Blu Mar Ten here at DNB Dojo. In a time when so much music, drum & bass included, is a packaged commodity designed to appeal to a very specific marketplace and lacking or devoid of originality, BMT stand as a beacon of the creativity and inspiration that makes the best music so exciting. If you subscribe to the adage that 99% of everything is rubbish, then these guys are the 1% of the 1%.

Enter Empire State, the team’s seventh studio album and their fourth for their own Blu Mar Ten Music imprint. Picking up pretty much exactly where Famous Lost Words left off, the album plays like a love letter to all the facets of D&B, focusing on the deeper and more melodic side of the music but with some unashamed dancefloor rollers thrown into the mix. More experimental tracks like Monologue and Fall From Grace dial back the beats, allowing Blu Mar Ten’s knack for shimmering synth work to shine through, while straight up rollers such as Immortal Beloved provide that uptempo euphoria the duo do so well.

Robert Manos makes a welcome appearance on the effortlessly crispy Keep It Together, while the rest of the album’s vocal-led tracks feature the enigmatic strains of Kite, a female vocalist that we can literally find nothing about anywhere. The pair clearly have a talent for spotting gifted singers; as with Agnė Genytė’s contributions to their previous LP, Kite lends raw emotion and a less obvious style of delivery to the vocals here, and the album sounds fantastic for her presence.

Empire State probably won’t convince the naysayers of the merits of the more melodic end of D&B, nor is it packed full of cutting-edge, genre-bending or trend-setting material. If however you want an album featuring some of the most finely crafted D&B and a ton of depth and feeling, Blu Mar Ten deliver in spades. As always. Check out the previews below and hit up the BMT Store to grab a copy on vinyl or digital now.

Kimyan Law – Zawadi LP [Blu Mar Ten]

Reviewers often fall back on old adages about “that difficult second album” when reviewing an artist’s sophomore full length, but such adages definitely aren’t needed when discussing Zawadi, Kimyan Law’s follow up to his exceptional 2014 debut Coeur Calme. The 21 year old producer’s work continues to show a confidence, style and eccentricity well beyond his years, and the album is an absolute joy from start to finish.

As with his first LP (and indeed the other scattered tracks that have surfaced in between) Zawadi is wide ranging in it’s influences and sonic textures, an aural melting pot taking in African music, jazz, pop, garage, jungle and who knows what else. Lush natural instrumentation combines with club influences, like on the unusual, amen-tinged glitchyness of Yore Dub or Motsa collaboration Citadelle, which sounds like something Burial might come up with if he’d found a xylophone and could be bothered to work on his mixdowns.

Elsewhere Luba sees Kimyan reconnecting with his tribal roots for a beautifully simple composition consisting almost entirely of natural percussion and chanted vocals, while album closer White Moth Anthem takes a leaf from the LA bass book to explore a lurching, low slung hip-hop jam with tons of swing and a haunting set of synth textures.

There’s plenty of space elsewhere for more conventional D&B outings, whether on soft, liquid-y Phentix collab Mondegreen, stripped back roller Lavender or the deep halftime groove of September. Even on the more fast paced cuts all of Kimyan’s material retains a softness; sharp edged hyper-clean production this is not. The use of organic instrumentation gives everything not just a unique character but a general effortlessness, and the use of space and reverb give the album a profoundly cinematic quality.

More than anything this album is an emotional, evocative collection of material that bears all the hallmarks of a young musician pouring his being into his music. Genuine, engrossing, enthralling and colourful throughout, this might just be the best album you hear this year. Check out the clips below and hit up the BMT Store to grab it on vinyl, CD or digital right now.

Conduct – Borderlands LP [Blu Mar Ten]

Let’s get this out of the way straight off the bat; Conduct’s debut LP is one of the best album’s you’ll hear this year, if not this decade. Regular readers are unlikely to be surprised by this verdict given our glowing coverage of the previous album singles and general love of all things Blu Mar Ten Music, but don’t dismiss this review based on our apparent lack of objectivity.

To get another thing out of the way, anyone looking for an album of dancefloor rollers or constant 2-step drum beats will be heartily disappointed, but this has never been what Blu Mar Ten Music has been about. Following in the footsteps of Frederic Robinson and Kimyan Law, Conduct are doing their best to redefine the boundaries of what 170BPM music can or should be, and the results are breathtaking.

The most striking thing about many of the tracks on Borderlands is the bold use of prominent instrumentation not usually associated with drum & bass, particularly guitar lines. From the stark, country-style steel string lines of Bat Country to the lavish twin-guitar progressions of Archaic, it’s obvious that Conduct are more than just laptop junkies.

That use of natural instrumentation combined with more synthetic bass and drum elements defines the sound on many tracks, providing a fantastic duality. Soft, natural keys float above monstrous low end modulations on Pianotune, while mournful six-strings duel with warped vocals on Beta’s Error to highlight a couple of notable examples.

A strong sense of yearning shines through on the material too, such as the delicate and heartful strains of Turmoil and the more optimistic melodies of Grand Panjadrum; attempting to adequately describe the intention of these tracks is probably an exercise in futility, but they certainly carry an emotional component often lacking from even leftfield electronic music.

Overall this is an intense and powerful body of work; varied yet cohesive, musically deft and thoroughly evocative. It plays like no other drum & bass record you’re likely to hear, and it’s a huge achievement from a duo we hope to hear much more from in the coming years. Check out the previews below and head to the BMT store to grab it on vinyl, CD or digital right now.

Conduct – Bat Country [Blu Mar Ten]

Blu Mar Ten Music continue winding up towards the release of their latest solo artist album with a second single from the rather talented Conduct. As we’ve come to expect from BMTM the musicality on show here is breathtaking, providing ample proof that D&B can be about so much more than just forgettable dancefloor fodder.

The solemn guitar work on lead track Bat Country brings to mind equal parts latter-day Earth (check their excellent album Hex; or printing in the Infernal Method) and the soundtrack to a tense saloon stand-off in some imaginary Western. Said licks combine surprisingly well with the obviously synthetic bassline elements later in the track for a decidedly moody aesthetic.

Over on the flip, Beta’s Error goes in super deep, eschewing any kind of rolling or stepping drum pattern for sparse, echoing kicks and percussive glitches, allowing the creepily treated vocals and melancholy atmospheres space to breathe. The influence of shoegaze and post-rock definitely seeps into Conduct’s sound on this one, and the results are sublime.

As usual you can pick this one up from the Blu Mar Ten store on vinyl or digital, and we’d encourage you to grab a copy right now, because this is undoubtedly one of the finest pieces of music to cross our inbox this year.