Having been overlooked for some time by the majority of the music world, it’s fair to say that drum & bass is a genre that since it’s ‘90s inceptions has remained for the majority of the ‘00s of niche and cult status. However, in part due to the rise of “minimal” drum & bass and dBridge & Instra:mental’s Autonomic podcast series suddenly the genre has been revitalised again and is garnering the sort of interest and critical attention not seen since the heyday of jungle. This debut LP offering from Nottingham label Hustle Audio demonstrates plenty of the strength and depth in the scene right now and crucially, with a roster of up and coming artists that will read unfamiliar to many, shows that this strength resonates to its very fringes.

For all drum & bass’ associations with heavy breaks it’s telling that Definitions should open with a full minute of beatless ambience in the form of K-Dan’s “Heal Us All” remixed by French producer Naibu, a cacophony of distorted synths and vocals that build with an ever increasing fervour. Next up “Transversion” from producers du jour Amoss applies a haunting female vocal line to a familiar bass heavy minimal template to great effect. A similarly emotional weight underpins Expect’s “No Time To Lose”, a strongly musical effort creating a piano-led progression that wouldn’t be unfitting as part of a film soundtrack save for its jungle-esque snares. Meanwhile album highlight “Free Fall” offsets a dramatic synth line against a driving arpeggio to create a perfect balance of poignancy and progression amidst a perfectly weighted beat.

The second half of the album gives room to some more traditional dancefloor-orientated numbers, with perhaps slightly less of the emotional depth of the first but no less originality. Hotly tipped producer Bazil steals the limelight with his dual efforts “Jah Gone” and “Back To Front”, the latter standing out particularly for its huge bassline that begs to be heard on club speakers whilst maintaining a musical feel with minor chords transcending the mix to counteract the track’s heavy two step rhythm. No less powerful is InZtance’s closer “Principles”, again making use of a huge bassline in a manner that will doubtless find favour with club DJs .

Overall Definitions is a fantastic offering that serves to demonstrate the real depth and variety of bass music being produced in the 170 bpm range right now. For fans of drum & bass it should be an essential listen; for those who remain doubtful or curious it should serve to show just what they’re missing – unclichéd, experimental and curiously emotional dance music.

Bionic1 & Losca – Free Fall – Definitions LP by Hustle Audio

Definitions is out now on Hustle Audio

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