Mindmapper & June Miller - Gaia EP
The Netherlands’ very own Break-Fast Audio are fast becoming pioneers of a considered, musical simplicity, comfortable with immediate menace and subtle expanse alike. We’ve also been used to dealing with the double-edged sword that is June Miller, who in turn exhibit excellence in both tech-aligned ferocity and Autonomic-themed ambience. It’s the latter on display here – in a similar vein to their Give Up The Ghost EP on Horizons – but not with half as much of the urgent intensity we see here. Bring rising star Mindmapper into the mix and what we’re witnessing here is a truly stellar soundtrack, engrossed in its own landscapes and enhanced by the conviction behind the artists’ work.
Woods introduces a rising orchestral score, layered textures and passive aggressive undertones into its opening sum, almost a ‘calm before the storm’ mentality. The sum of parts we’re left with essentially doesn’t amount to a great deal but remains a glaring example of excellence in simplicity: its considered, contained atmosphere is frankly beguiling. Autonomic soundtrack music at its finest. Bermuda’s dystopian intro continues the opening track’s melancholic tones, moving slowly into its rolling ‘live’ hi-hats and throbbing underbelly. No snare in sight suggests a supreme confidence from the artists, and they pulled it off with aplomb. The excerpt from the Tron soundtrack that’s finally surfaced. In the same way Bermuda relied heavily on those rolling hats, Vessel in turn relies on an almighty sub-sonic wave that carries throughout. Its oscillating expanse and minuscule malfunctioning percussion again displaying the artists absolute comfort in simple precision. Introducing all those percussive elements lost in the former tracks, Savannah’s clicking percussive elements and droning ‘up-down’ sub-bass again displays the artists total confidence in its lack of progression or over-complication. An anger that lingers without ever bubbling over the surface.
There’s a strange yet fascinating paradox that exists at the heart of this collection, with the soundscape approach that fundamentally challenges the confines of processed tempo restriction coming to the fore in recent years. As EDJ suggested in their recent review of Silent Dust’s latest release, like-minded producers including SD, ASC, Sam KDC etc. are veering so far away from the confines of ‘Drum & Bass’ as a genre so as to render tagging their music with that title ultimately meaningless; also perhaps a huge disservice to the music that is clearly unrecognisable from what the discerning listener would label DnB. But again maybe we could assume it’s this simple deadlock that allows the creative to thrive – as ASC succintly suggests, ‘For all my complaints and bitterness directed at drum & bass, I still find myself strangely drawn to it, like a moth to light.’ In terms of this release, there also seems to be no positive correlation between anticipation and decay at play here – how long have we been waiting for Woods in particular? – with the Gaia EP further enhancing Break-Fast’s credibility as a label focused on music that offers a genuine longevity. In a similar vein I love Flatliners’ ‘Twisted Dreams’ – another Break-Fast modern classic – as much today as I did when I first heard it about a year and a half ago, and I have a sneaky feeling this release will be no different.