Released on the 14th of October, Future Thinkin’s EP, Where is the Music, asks a question, which, on the face of it, seems easily answered by anyone who’s ever pressed a headphone to their ear. However, aside from also being the title of Minor Editz, DJ Fox and I-One’s lead song on the release; the question “Where is the Music” digs deeper.
With the vast majority of ‘dnb heads’ (as they now like to be called) either following in the wake of DJ Hype and his ‘Playaz’ or drifting toward the over-trebled, poorly-produced and incorrectly-labelled ‘liquid’ of the corrupted Hospitality imprint; this release prompts awareness of the fading more melodic styles of drum & bass in the UK.
The first track, and personal favourite, of the EP comes straight out of Nottingham. Despite the six month absence of James “dbAudio”, dRamatic and his short-lost brother show off their production skills through perfectly tweaked strings and a flavour that’s been hiding in the shadows since Bachelors of Science’s LP Science Fiction was released in 2008. The pair take the listeners back to the better days of Hospitality when the likes of Nu:Tone, London Elektricity and Logistics appreciated the need for acoustic sounds, soft female vocals and intricate melodies within the Liquid Funk world. If you ever see dRamatic & dbAudio on a flyer; be there.
The next track on the Extended Play employs low-frequency oscillation on the bassline, a filtered vocal sample and truly funky sine-wave chords. It’s as if Paul SG has taken Mutt’s ‘Let’s Get Away ‘ (2006) and Zero T’s ‘Walk Away’ (2008), fused them together, sprinkled on his own style, put LTJ Bukem’s cherry on top and shot out a contemporary take on the mid 2000s flavour. This song has truly “Established Emotion” as a key ingredient of drum & bass, something lost in the realms of jump-up.
Upon the third click of the double-arrow you truly get shot in the face by bass (sorry). Slowly leading you in to the darker elements of the diverse nature of their label, Future Thinkin’ give us a glimpse of hope as to where the music’s gone by telling us that it is, indeed, right here in the present. Stereotype’s ‘Not Soon Enough’ pinches style from the fabulous forefront of drum & bass with the Critical Music and Exit Records imprints releasing anthems of similar style. A reductionist beat, characterized by an eroded rim shot and subtle-hats, sits comfortably upon a dark bass line with a soft saxophone making sure that the listener knows Future Thinkin’ understands the importance of melody. Whether Stereotype decides to drop in the direction of the darker or wander toward the lighter styles of the genre remains to be seen; either way this song is sure to pop off dance floors across the UK in the coming months.
The EP’s final tune comes as collaboration between Minor Editz, DJ Fox and I-One. Although attempting to hit drum & bass at its core with a good appreciation of the amen break, the lead track fails to compete with the beat-switching of those like Lemon D during the late 90’s/ early 20’s. Anyhow, with a vibe similar to that of past releases by hip-hop inspired artists, such as Atlantic Connection, a Nu:Tone ‘Where is the Music’ encompasses so many flavours that it’s hard to know where in your mouth the music truly is.