Track of The Week: The Upbeats – The Furies

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.

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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:

https://www.facebook.com/theupbeats/
https://twitter.com/theupbeats

And if you feel like doing the same to me at all, you can do so with a like, a follow or a subscription to the blog:

https://www.facebook.com/IAmTheSoundshark/
https://twitter.com/The_Soundshark

 

Tiny Giant

So the saying goes that you’re never supposed to meet your heroes. Why that is the actual case or anyone presumes they will only disappoint you, seems rather far-fetched if you ask me. Then again, I’ve done a pretty good job of not really meeting any of my heroes thus far. Probably because half of them are dead. The other half I think I’d require some of sort fate-like chance encounter to even get near. Perhaps somewhat because I can come across as shy and undeniably awkward.┬áMusicians certainly seem to have that effect on me. Due to the sheer number of bands and musicians I actually like, I could say that I have a lot of heroes I haven’t met. I only ended up meeting The Qemists because I can jump high in crowded spaces and James Rushent from Does It Offend You Yeah? because my friends pushed me over towards where he was standing. Just to give you an indicator. But what about the opposite effect? What about when your heroes accidentally end up meeting you? I can safely say overwhelming happiness and the odd inhuman sounding noise were protocol on that day. So goes how the tale of this Tiny Giant piece came into being.

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The brainchild of former Pure Reason Revolution vocalist and current touring guitarist for Charlie XCX, Chloe Alper, and drummer, sound engineer, producer and all-round musical maestro Mat Collis, Tiny Giant’s call-to-arms is a clash between often soothing hypnotic ambience and ground-pounding instrumental punches. In short, like those floating dreams you have, only with the gods themselves hurling boulders in your direction at the same time. Most recent single Seeing Everything As Though It Is Real certainly implies as such, building momentum with a minute and a half’s worth of ethereal string-tinged cloud-gazing. Through out, glimmers and teases of an angelic refrain, invoking the spirit of Seventh Tree-era Goldfrapp, call out in the distance, showcasing one such area of the impressive vocal dexterity of Chloe if unfamiliar with her previous work. Ambience is left to form its own spellbinding drone, a little on the Eno side of affairs, leading into a moment’s cold chill of guitar right before a gigantic shift in tone. That cold chill remains a constant presence but ends up near muted, as the size and volume of cannon-force bass overlays and overpowers the previous serene setting, leaving drums that can match the ferocity and brute strength of the sound, and the soulful sirenesque demeanour of Chloe’s vocals for company. Whether the vocals sit in hushed climates, or revel in the carnage between guitar and drums, there’s no denying they are an object of versatile beauty and a phenomenal centrepiece to a truly involving composition. One titanic Tom Morello-inspired groove and final chorus later, and you’re left with a lot to digest. Tiny Giant are offering a unique take on a quiet-loud dynamic shift, forcibly smashing together dream-pop and progressive rock into an intriguing and strangely alluring sonic sculpture. The sheer potential and unpredictability of this combination, let alone the incredible talents of both musicians involved, can only ensure that Tiny Giant sit firmly on the horizon as one of the most creative and exciting projects to watch out for this year.

There is yet to be a release date for either of the two tracks, Seeing Everything As Though It Is Real and Heavy Love, which can be found on Chloe’s Soundcloud page, but there is a full-length album believed to be in progress, with a presumed 2016 release date pencilled in. Keep an eye on it. Only good can come of this.

In the mean time, you can give them a virtual hug right here:

https://www.facebook.com/TinyGiantmusic/?fref=ts
https://twitter.com/chloealper
https://twitter.com/deadlydrummer

And if you feel like giving me a virtual hug too, be it via a like, a follow, subscribing or some nice words, you can do so here:

https://www.facebook.com/IAmTheSoundshark/
https://twitter.com/The_Soundshark