Subtextures - Various - Interchill Records - Review

After the release of the superb Waypoint compilation last year, Canadian downtempo label Interchill Records are back with their latest offering - Subtextures. Waypoint introduced listeners to many exciting new sounds from across the planet and Subtextures continues much in that vain with a more intelligent dub vs experimental beats approach with a wonderful track selection compiled by Interchill's label DJ Naasko.

subtextures interchill cover artwork
Cover art by Android Jones

It's been close to a decade since the  release of Naasko's last compilation - the rather excellent Arcana back in 2006. How has his taste in music evolved since those old psydub and ethnoambient music days ? How will these new tracks fit into the overall Interchill story ?

Most noticeable on the album is that the artists included are not your regular Interchill crew. Naasko has instead curated an audio exhibition that brings in many new artists to the extensive Interchill catalog of incredible producers, possibly reflecting Naasko own evolving tastes.

So lets take a look at what's on offer...

Track 01 - Biome - Atonement
UK dubstep artist Biome kicks things off with a heavy hitting kick and deep bass contrasted with soft female vocals and lush organs and pads. A very accompoished, polished track that consummately sets the mood for the entire album. 

Track 02 - Geode - Pacific
London based producer Geode (George Harris) has a very interesting approach on dubstep where he combines elements of jazz, house and garage to create forward thinking sounds that thankfully give bass music a refreshing new coat of paint.  This track is kind of like Miles Davis vs the soundtrack to an 80s arcade game. For more info on Geode check out the Chord Marauders collective , a group of four like minded producers who are delivering some of the most progressive bass music on the planet right now.

Track 03 - Jafu - All Clear
Jafu (James Fuller) is another member of the Chord Marauders group. From his base in Ontario, Canada he cooks up smooth lounge takes on intelligent dub music that has been described as "typified by precision drum programming, bouncy subs and refined synthesis". Really dig this one - reminds me of the old Ninja Tunes stuff circa mid 90s. 

Track 04 - HxdB vs Daega Sound
A double act of Canadian artists up next. HxdB ( hexadecibel ) joins forces with the sophisticated production of Daega Sound to produce another couch locking audio treat. Shuffling rhythms and  reverbed stabs of dubtech chords give this track a wonderful backbone. A real head noddin' delight. Get loaded !

Track 05 - Deaga Sound - Five Rings
Daega Sound have featured on past mixes such as my psystep mix. I've been a long fan of their dark brooding sounds. This track is a real pleasure to listen to. Syncopated rhythms, deep bass, acoustic percussive elements and waves of panic combine to superb effect. If you are in Canada be sure to check out their set next month at the 16th annual Motion Notion festival which has an awesome lineup of bass artists. 

Track 06 - IMRSV - Zenote
Naasko himself, working with producer/creative coder Jason Job, create music under the IMRSV moniker. Here they have constructed a algorithmic deep bass journey which, despite some simplistic rhythms, works well to create a moving, emotive tune. Hope these guys can find time to do more work together in the future as this shows real potential.

Track 07 - Dubsworth - Circular Reason
Dubsworth (Daniel Karz-Wagman) , a classically trained musician and co-founder of the acclaimed DubsAlive label,  is known for his bass heavy productions that explore the space between hard hitting dubstep, traditional dub, funk and beyond. As he says “Originality in music comes from a fresh combination of old ideas”. A philosophy which is very evident in his music. This is the most straight up dub track on the this release and it comes at a good place in the overall track lineup - providing a fresh break from the previous tracks which do tend to sound a little similar. 
Track 08 - Trashbat - Tibet
Hailing from Kent in the UK, Trashbat (Callum Grant) provides a cinematic excursion of far-off dub imaginings. A delightful tune that combines a number of elements that you think could not possibly work together at all but actually fly together very well indeed ! I suspect this guy might just be a musical prodigy. 

Track 09 - Gyu - Cabasa
Gyu ( Guy Fforde ) is a British producer who mixes up elements of future garage, house and dub genres with stylish aplomb. This track is probably closest to what one normally hears from Interchill - that dubby, chilled out downtempo evident on previous label releases like Infinessence, Bliminal and Waypoint. Guy has actually uploaded how he created this track on youtube which you can watch right here ! A beautiful,tender tune. 

Track 10 - Sepia - Shakra
Following on next is another British artist, Sepia. This is a nice track that has a touch of the Bluetech thing about it with its stuttering percussion and delicate melody. Lovely stuff with a beautifully deep sub bass sound.

Track 11 - Congi - Pieces Of
Congi are a duo formed of Gaz Frost and Tulip and are also part of the forementioned Chord Marauders collective. This album seems to be quite a Chord Maraudrs showcase! Similar to other artists in the collective, expect more smooth loungesque organ sounds mixed over deep bass all held in place with plenty of lush reverb. Tasty tunage.

Track 12 - Rowl - Aikido
Bristol based Rowl was one of the artists who provided a remix on Makyo's Purnima Remixed album last year. He did a superb job on that remix and here, in this track, we a fortunate enough to hear his silky skills once more. This is a marvelous, minimalist dub tune that floats by like a beautiful sunset.

Track 13 - Matt Deco - Boom Bap
Based in Los Angeles, Matt Deco produces music that explores the margins between dubstep and drum and bass. It's good to hear another slightely heavier tune on the album. Someting thats more upfront attention grabbing. Great tune.

Track 14 - Commit - Atlantis
The final track, and possibly my favorite, comes from Sydney based producer Sean Fitzjohn, aka Commit. This has a classic chilled out dub vibe that would find its home on just about any quality psydub album released over the past decade. A stunning tune to be sure. 

So what to make of all this ? Well, if you are a fan of Interchill Records then I recommend seeing this album in context. It might not appeal to you at first as what we have here is essentially an album full of many short tunes ( approx 5-6 minutes each ) that don't really sound like Interchill tracks you might have come to expect. 

Nor does it have that qurkiness mixed with quality that you get with albums like Waypoint. It sits better along side compilations like 2009's "Depth Charge" and tracks like Occult's "Loose Change" I guess. Another odd thing about it is that a great many of the artist also appear together on other albums such as Deep Head Dubstep Vol 2. So it does feel like Naasko has kind of just plundered the DeepHeads roster here somewhat. 

In the context of a snapshot of what's going on the intelligent dubstep/bass community though it stands strong and is a great album on its own. There are no bad tracks here which is amazing considering there are 14 tracks on offer. If you are looking for something a little different to your usual psydub, psybient listening then I highly recommend giving this one a go. It will certainly open your ears to some new artists and some sauve new sounds.

Subtextures is now available from the following online stores :

- Subtextures on Bandcamp
- Subtextures on Beatport
- Subtextures on iTunes
- Subtextures on Addictech

Posted on 22.6.15 by PsyAmb TAG : | 0 Comments ( ADD NEW COMMENT )


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