REVIEW: Exit Records presents Mosaic Vol. 2 Album Launch
First of all, I’d just like to give a huge big ups to the following: gyrating couples; the ever-present oversized rucksack and briefcase (!) crew; the sweaty ogres who thought they were at a Ram night; and all those who were hell-bent on reaching a non-existent space at the front of the dance-floor to the detriment of others. 21 gun salute to you all… Now that that’s out of the way, let me get on with the review! Don’t worry it’s all positive from here on out (apologies to Joe Seven in advance who’s opening set i missed due to circumstances beyond my control, namely tube delays).
The first thing that became immediately obvious walking down into The Nest was its absolute contrast to Fire‘s brooding arches, host to Exit‘s somewhat controversial tenth birthday party back in April. Unfortunately, what hindered the venue those few months ago wasn’t the venue itself, rather the promoter’s insistence on ticket-overselling – making the dance-floor a microcosm of mini-battles as revellers fought for space to breathe. It has certainly and unfairly cast a negative light on the venue as a result, but its wow-factor has been growing stale with promoters and events flocking there after Cable‘s desperately disappointing closure. So you could imagine my relief walking onto the floor at the refreshingly-different The Nest to be greeted by simply lights, mist and a booming sound system.
And what fine use the music made of it… J:Kenzo spinning Genotype‘s ‘Jam That Feel’ confirmed my high expectations for the brooding minimal showcase we were to be in store for. A set full of raw dub dnb, including Kenzo’s very own ‘One Drop’ set to drop (ahem) on Part 1 of the highly anticipated Mosaic Vol. 2, made excellent use of of the weighty yet clean system. Next up was the enigmatic Dane Beastie Respond. It’s hard to believe two such contrasting artists – the former, heavyweight in the underground Dubstep scene, and the latter’s retro ‘fictitious nostalgia’ across a range of genres – can appear one after the other deep in the heart of East London, testament to Exit and dBridge’s global ambition. Spellbinding stuff from Beastie, who’s set utilised that 80s feel-good factor within the bracket of halftime 170 to maximum effect, culminating with the producer’s contribution to Mosaic Vol. 2 in the form of the ‘Sega’-step beauty ‘One More Second,’ my personal pick of the bunch from an album incredibly dense with creative depth.
To the bar for a quick Red-Bull excursion before Stray stepped up to the decks. Whilst his last release on Critical:Modulations (perhaps unjustifiably) courted controversy, it’s hard to reject his majestically kaleidoscopic approach to music production, and he sure does know how to get a crowd moving. Similar to Alix Perez’ Boiler Room set a while back, Stray’s alluring concoction of beats walked a tightrope between Odd Future new-school Hip Hop and juke-influenced off-centre DnB. Fantastically fresh music from an artist pushing the boundaries of what we call DnB to its absolute limits. In a similar vein, Fracture and Sim Binga are another set of artists exploring the deeper realms of breaks and bass old and new to beguiling effect, a b2b that played off each other as an intimate homage to all things Amen-break related – including Sam’s tasty relick of Shy FX classic ‘Bambaata’ and one Acid track that i struggled to move my feet to, shuffling uncomfortably to a tempo that isn’t the 170 or 130 I’m usually accustomed to (oh the horror!). Thanks for making me look suitably uncomfortable guys!
Awards to Ruffhouse & Clarity for another set of the night after their blistering showings at Genesis last month. Such masterful aggression and a ridiculous vibe from start to finish, made all the more downright scary by The Nest’s neo-gothic display oddities scattered around (think caged-off stag heads in costumes and strange voodoo ornaments) – the perfect setting for their industrial beats. In a set full of highlights Ruffhouse’s ‘Inversion’ VIP and Clarity’s ‘Off The Cuff’ VIP really caught the moment quite superbly, and on a related note big thanks to SP on the mic for constantly reminding us of Clarity’s almost-virginal tender years – he’s a frustratingly talented mofo indeed.
And, as the saying goes, last but certainly not least was perhaps one of the finest back-to-back-to-back sets i’ve witnessed in recent times from Exit head honcho dBridge and minimal darlings Skeptical & Dub Phizix. It really wouldn’t have been the same without a ton of exclusives being laid down, the ‘Marka’ instrumental in particular causing just as much damage as it did upon its release nearly two years ago – a true flag-bearer for the sound and arguably the brightest jewel in Exit’s crown to date.
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Dub Phizix’s long awaited ‘The Clock Ticks’ proved to be a fitting outro for a sound and family of artists that has continued to re-evaluate the definition of Drum & Bass, as we near another landmark release for the scene in general in the form of the second Mosaic compilation. Big ups to Joe & Josh and all (well most) of those in attendance who made an innocuous Wednesday night feel more like 6am on a Saturday morning.
Keep ’em peeled for our Mosaic Vol. 1 vs. Mosaic Vol. 2 review to come closer towards the release.
VA – Mosaic Vol. 2 is up for pre-order now via Exit Records’ Official Store.