Fields - Behind The Curtains / Elemental
With their consistently excellent output, it should come as no surprise that Urban Essence returns its gazing eyes to nascent Bristol-based label, Utopia Music. Having covered their last few enigmatic releases, their policy of packing as much varied content of resounding quality into single releases has certainly not gone unnoticed.
There’s a refreshing familial feel to their body of work: as their release schedule encourages the reappearance of previous contributors, we’re able to directly track the progress of this intriguing collective with clockwork regularity. This is what successful labels should be all about, nurturing talent through dedicated application. So in this respect, after presenting the label’s clinical fifth release – Foundations / Unspoken – back in September 2011, Fields returns for UM009, a 12” that not only departs emphatically from the former in displaying the producer’s adept versatility, but also carries the Utopia ‘two sides of the same coin’ mantra of calculated diversity.
BTC’s brazen assault is an energetic celebration of stripped-down elements. Introduced to shimmering, glacial atmospherics and its tightly condensed kick-snare arrangement at the opening, the track moves swiftly into its almighty fluctuating sub. Brazen, cavernous and menacing, BTC is a killer.
On the drastically dissimilar yet no less alluring flip side, Elemental builds rhythm through its studied arrangement. Plucking, echoing synths similar to those you’d find in Marcus Intalex’s Airbourne combine with a careful, unhurried arrangement of the Spectrasoul/Lenzman ilk, before merging unexpectedly into its wild meandering bassline like a balloon rushing wildly as it loses its air. A successful marriage of contemplative and organic sum of parts.
Often contemporary drum and bass polar-categorises itself: there are so many divisional sub-genres floating around it becomes in itself a challenge attempting to define anything that is even slightly leftfield. With this in mind, Utopia Music has nurtured this ethos in understanding and emphasising the double-edged sword, by presenting content that in itself becomes a microcosm of the scene today: brooding minimal and unabashed threat on one side, flowing melodies and meticulous sonic exploration on the other. The label pulled this feat off spectacularly with prior releases such as Andyskopes & Coerce’s UM006, and now we can also add 009 to the list. You’d be hard pressed to find such strength in variety on a single 12” anywhere else.
Out now at SURUS.