Some of the most technically proficient D'n'b out there.....
fetish_2000 | U.K. | 02/09/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Does Drum 'N' Bass need to be 'Danceable' to be considered good Drum 'N' Bass???....if the answer is "Yes", than you'll need to pass on this CD, and head for one of the Drum 'N' Bass producers known for remarkably dancefloor friendly music. Because Photek (aka "Rupert Parkes"), although having recorded Drum 'n Bass for many years (also under a few aliases), Photek makes the sort of Drum 'N' Bass, that would be incredibly hard to sell to those that like listen to their Drum 'n' Bass in both the home and in the Club. Hardly surprising as Photek rarely DJ's, and is more a producer than musician.
You know when you have the sort of sublime Drum 'n Bass that is catchy, melodic, has a great sense of rhythm and has that tremendous build-up before giving you the central/chorus rhythm, or has superb use of Vocals or Mc'ing???. Well forget all of that, because this has absolutely none of that. Doesn't sound so promising so far does it??? but what Photek does have on his side is a level of intricate Drum/Rhythm programming, that really is second to none.....(apparently needing several weeks of computer preparation, just to put one track together), and tightly focused sounds and sound effect manipulation that gives his sound that distinctly menacing, Paranoid & anxious effect. Forget about guest female vocalists singing beautifully over samba/Latin breakbeat's, or funky Drum 'n' Bass beats mixed with up-tempo Jazz. Photek deals in the dark end of Drum 'n' Bass, and more specifically the 'Home listening' end of D'n'B, because you'll be hard pressed to find many people willing to try dancing to this in a traditional D'n'B club.
Think sci-fi strings, and skittering beats, that wouldn't sound out of place, if someone like "Aphex Twin" or "Squarepusher" were drafted in to create a minimalist, industrial-styled drum 'N' Bass, but without the weird & wonderful twists & Turns that their music is known for. It's a strangely Cold sound and with the music taking the form of thrumming bass, sweeping synths, bell tones and hyperkinetic drum patterns swirl together, forming a mysterious mood, that is as much keeping with electronica as it is D'n'B, and the feeling is a weirdly detached, synthetic sound, not unlike more aggressively paced ambient techno track. (think "Autechre" handling moody breakbeat)
This is music designed almost exclusively for listening to at home, because such is the overridingly dense and claustrophobic nature of his music, and the fiercely complex nature of his drum patterns, and minimalist approach to arrangement (almost unlike anything else out there), this is what, I would refer to as 'Mood Music', insofar as it's not generally something that'll have wide/accessible appeal, but those entering into this with the right frame of mind/ or under the right circumstances will (hopefully) all see what all the fuss is about.
Each track works to a very similar brief....bleak, nervous & unapologetically dark Metallic drum programming, and it's clinical Eerie industrial sounding take on underground jungle make this hard going for most, and the lack of distinctive song structures also threaten to make some tracks blur into the next. But this isn't an album that intends to impress on its first couple of listens.....no, multiple listens are required, and because of the density of the music, listening to the album in segments (several tracks at a time), will give a better appreciation of it's tightly interwoven arrangements that over the course of multiple listens really do begin to reveal exactly, that beneath the seemingly understated bassline, off-kilter snares and offsetting synth, lurks meticulous attention to detail, that some lesser skilled producers couldn't possibly hope to emulate.
subdued beats, give way to ominous cymbals and pattering snares, and the frequently rumblingly abrasive beat, works beautifully with the more tense and clinical sounding percussion effects. And again, it must be mentioned, that if the listener isn't prepared to really sink their teeth into this album, then the meticulously crafted tracks, the subtle use of Hi-hat, and LTJ Bukem styled synth's, layered over effects on tracks that all run at over 6 minutes, will have long outstayed their welcome, well after 3 minutes. As this is music that is much about technicality as it is musical expression.
If your the sort of person that is a little freeform with their music and doesn't mind / or applauds people attempting to do things a little differently with their music, or like musicians / producers that refuse to allow themselves to be confined to genre limitations, or do you find that you like the more 'leftfield' approach in the music that you listen to?? Then this is possibly the sort of album that may well interest you. The fact is that you might not even like this the first couple of times you hear it. I first heard Photek via a couple of remixes he did for other artists, and I thought "Nice...not bad", heard some of his own work, and thought "Hmmm.....that's okay, maybe not something I'd buy", and it's only after hearing the odd Mp3 around friends or (*Coughs*) downloading a couple of tracks, that I'm now really sold on his style of music. This really is either 'Love it' or 'Hate it' music. And if going through the trouble of trying to appreciate his music sounds like "Too much effort", then I suggest you give this a miss. But those that are prepared to stick with this 'Dance-unfriendly' Drum 'N' Bass, will (eventually) some of the most abstract and technically proficient Drum 'n' Bass/Electronica out there."
thfcbrum | 05/13/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"this for me is the pinnacle of drum and bass. the beats are so crisp and sharp that they cut into you. the bass so deep and punctuating it drags you along into the suite. very little else other than percussion and bass. the landscape can seem very barron, very empty. you can almost feel the tumbleweed rolling past or the sound of breaking glass 5 blocks away. as previous reviewers have noted, this guy has manufactured every single part of this player. the beats constructed in a mans own image. i dont think this is one for the masses, theres not really anything slightly commercial, nor would i ever recommend it as a gateway into this genre. the player is an entitlement ya gotta earn to appreciate it. it took me about 2 years to really enjoy what photek was doing here, and to listen to it now (many years on) it still unnerves me.ideally be used as a soundtrack to a dark minimalist film nobody ever watches.very haunting.....very very good."
Intelligent, Abstract Music
Beatmerchant26 | somewhere in the south pacific | 11/19/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I've only recently got into electronica, i already own albums by leftfield, prodigy and the chemical brothers, but i really enjoyed this album, it is meticulously crafted and expertly executed and the tune Hidden Camera is a dnb classic although the whole thing is good. I hear mentioned a lot with electronic music that it is "cold" and "inhuman." But to me Photek's music is more human than whatever slick commercial rock is trendy at the moment, cos his main instrument is the second most human instrument, the drum, like it began in Africa, Modus is full of cranking beats that keep your head nodding like you're listening to Ironman by Black Sabbath. Great, primitive stuff."
Carlos Espino | Houston Texas | 01/19/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Although I usually preffer more energetic D&B this album really caught me by surprise. The beats are so precise and well executed. I really enjoyed the amount of control that Photek had over the music. Don't go in thinking this will be dieselboy or DJ DB because it's not. It's an entirely different beast. It's a bit more along the lines of Polygon Window mixed with Amon Tobin's walls of sound. It's a really great album to relax and read to. Some of the tracks can be a bit stale but most of them are pretty great, especially track one (it's my fav)."