Premiere: Trace & Survey – The Dreamer

We’re hyped to have a techstep legend in the premiere spotlight today! Taken from his new EP for CNVX, The Dreamer sees DSCI4 boss Trace teaming up with Berlin duo Survey for a retro-future sci-fi roller; from the spacey pads of the intro through the crunchy breaks and modulated basslines, this is the soul of late 90s dark D&B brought up to the minute with 2020 production techniques, and it sounds glorious. Look for this coming August 14th on Bandcamp!

Continue reading

Trace – Opaque EP [CNVX]

Trace’s return to Drum & Bass production over the last year has been most welcome. While his work as an A&R / label boss for both jungle-focussed imprint 117 and legendary techstep label DSCI4 has been thoroughly on point, his brand of no-nonsense rolling darkness has been thoroughly lacking from the scene until the surprising drop of the Zone EP last year. Clearly Trace is back on it with gusto, and this year we’ve got four new cuts courtesy of Kid Drama’s CNVX.

If ever it was possible for a release to sound both retro and futuristic, Trace’s productions here do. Stylistically they’re not dissimilar to his legendary output in the heyday of the late 90s techstep explosion, and they definitely hark back to that slightly forgotten sound…but at the same time the ethos of that material always drew on sci-fi for an ethereal, futuristic sonic palette, which definitely feels more than present here. Combine that with the razor sharp production available in 2019 and you’re back to the future in a big way.

For anyone sick of the ever-so-slightly-ADD hyperactivity of modern neurofunk, the Opaque EP is the perfect antithesis. Rolling breaks inject the funk, dark bass riffs give the tunes their weight, and the focus is very much a less-is-more aesthetic; groove and progression over endless variations and switchups. We don’t know what Trace has been listening to but maybe there’s a techno influence in the song writing creeping in here? Either way this is a delicious collection of techstep grooves, and a cracking take on a vintage sound. Hit up the CNVX Bandcamp to grab it straight from the source now…

Alia Fresco EP [CNVX]

Kid Drama’s CNVX imprint has always been an eclectic outlet; from the IDM-esque melancholy of his Mikarma alias, through beats from dBridge, Resound and Abstract Elements, the label certainly doesn’t like to be pigeon-holed. All of which brings us to the imprint’s latest offering, a quirky and sublime slice of autonomic pop courtesy of Drama himself and vocalist Alia Fresco, who you may recognise from her collaborative project with Loxy and Resound, The Levels.

The production here is stripped back to the barest essentials, minimalist arrangements that bring to mind The xx, albeit entirely lacking in indie-rock guitar twang. This use of space gives Fresco ample room to breathe, and her voice fills the tracks beautifully. From the brooding reflections of Ordinary Thing and Guys Like You through the more uplifting Let You Go and into the absolutely electrifying Break Me Out, the EP is powerful, gripping and original; a pure blend of autonomic aesthetic and heartfelt lyricism. My only complaint is that at 15 minutes, it’s nowhere near long enough. Give us an album!

The Alia Fresco EP is out now on vinyl and digital via CNVX.

Kid Drama – Crimson / Azure E​​P [CNVX]

Jon Convex’s return from the land of all things house & techno to 170BPM pastures recently has been a source of great joy for fans of the Autonomic sound that he helped to craft, and it seems he’s so enamoured with the sound that he’s launching a new sub imprint of his Convex Industries label to deal with some of the output.

The first release on the label melds the atmospherics and unusual percussion of autonomic with sometimes growling bass and shows a talent for progression often unheard in electronic music. Azure pt 1 evolves from nothing but rhythm at the start to a sprawl of lush synthesis by the end, while pt 2 reformulates some of that synthesis into a slightly steadier composition with more of a driving beat.

The two variants of Crimson meanwhile explore darker territory, with more insistent beatwork and dark, filtered bass taking centre stage. Plenty to enjoy here if you like your beats a little unusual – check out the tracks below and hit up Bandcamp to grab the release for the entirely reasonable price of £1.

[bandcamp width=100% height=274 album=1947722869 size=large bgcol=ffffff linkcol=0687f5 artwork=none]