I seldom get an opportunity to write about drum and bass at length, perhaps because DJ culture can be so fickle when it comes to tastes, flavours and preferences, and more likely down to how these articles are written, that focus draws upon producers and a stand out track of theirs, leaving the door open to do further investigation if you so wish. I tend to focus a lot more on the underground side of affairs too, but there’s always artists at the very top of their game who produce something so monumental that words have to be said about them.
The unstoppable New Zealand duo of The Upbeats will always hold a special place in my heart, not just for the fabrication of jaw-dropping bass sounds and gritty, authentic percussion, but without them, a major event in my life may not have unfolded. Although I’m not in a possession of a physical copy, two years ago I received my degree in Media Studies after a month’s worth of sleepless nights writing my dissertation. As motivation, there were primarily two groups I listened to get me through that hard period of my life: my second favourite band of all time Placebo, and the mighty Upbeats. Should Jeremy and Dylan get to read this, then I hope it’ll bring a smile to their faces that they sit in the acknowledgements as ‘an energising soundtrack for sanity’s sake.’ Cheers gents.
The connection ties in a little further however, as this track, formerly untitled at least to me until a few days ago, The Furies almost dates back two years also from the first time I encountered it. What staggers me about The Upbeats and why their work ranks upon the highest echelons of drum and bass is because of how creative, unique and fearsome their production capabilities are. Big Skeleton, Undertaker, Beyond Reality all rank amongst my favourite DnB tunes because of how unforgettable they are and how unbelievable that electronic instruments and sound frequency manipulation can create such inconceivable, inhuman noise. The Furies sits as another in the sterling discography of two of the best in the game today.
From the get-go, the track screams urgency and intensity, ominous winds rapidly formulating around the bouncing synth gradually phasing inwards, volume building so as it does. But within 30 seconds, walls of bass blare, closing in your position while what can only be described as jittery, electric cackles alternate between them. The brevity of each gear switch in this build-up elevates the tension and sheer excitement to an exponential level and one such reason why this shines as another tremendous Upbeats floor destroyer. Drums begin to whip the mood into a frenzy, retaining the energy and bounce of the initial synth at the inset and distilling it into a volatile warhead at perilously unsteady velocity. And right at its apex, bass and synths pitching to breaking point and drums programmed to maximise impact, the projectile collides with the planet and the electrifying, pure kinetic detonation is phenomenal.Visceral in execution, the bass is akin to an interdimensional beast ripping the fabric of time and space a new asshole, pulverising any of a nervous disposition and elating those at fever pitch, all while the pounding of snares and kick pedals propels the resulting shockwave as far as it can reach. The mood shortly simmers after, revealing a second side to the bass as the synth changes to a simulation of the beast laughing at the devastation, and the drums gaining in intricacy but without losing any of its punch. Though layers are stripped away here, it serves as a perfect opportunity just to drink in the unparalleled production values of the most critical elements in The Furies. There’s room for a second warhead to come if survivors are ready for it, but it is no less incredible than the first encounter. At least you’ll be better prepared.
Time and time and time again, the duo from New Zealand continue to push beyond the realms of what is even conceivably possible in terms of constructing truly monstrous bass sounds and what ranks among the most realistic of drum production in their music. Though this release has been nearly two years in the making, it has been one of their most anticipated releases since decimating an unsuspecting audience at Let It Roll Festival and with the expertise, craftmanship and pure love and passion for the music, the results remain as spectacular and no doubt will continue to. An adrenalin rush at its very, very best.
The Furies is officially out today (Friday 11th March) on Drum and Bass Arena’s 2016 Compilation, which can be found here. The Upbeats are rumoured to be working on a new album, judging by the amount of unreleased material they are accruing, but have no current ETA nor a label it is being released by, but don’t be surprised if it falls into a late 2016 release window.
In the meantime, go give these guys a giant high five:
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