I don't know much about the two guys behind the Vex'd. A friend,
who recently got back from a trip to London, suggested that I
look out for their debut album on Planet Mu. I did, and now I
can't stop listening. Degenerate is a limited two-CD collection
of new material (Disc-1) and old singles (Disc-2) by this duo.
It's the freshest thing that I've heard come out of the grime/dubstep-2-step/breaks/drum
'n' bass/drill 'n' bass scene in quite some time. Bridging the
off-kilter, rapid-steady pulse of 2-step or D 'n' B and the shredded
digital aesthetics of the grime and breaks genres, the music is
sure to tear the roof off some unsuspecting listeners homes, or
send the diehard raver into an ecstatic frenzy. The rhythms are
hard, tight, and irresistible. You'll be entranced by the start-stop
distortion, the time-stretched synths, understated hip-hop, reggae,
and techno references, and the sharp, shimmering sounds coming
from the speakers. Vex'd are the toast of the Dubstep scene at
the moment, and it's obvious why; they make infectious dance music.
The blazing first single, "Pop Pop," is included here,
with a V.I.P. remix. You've heard all these elements before (dark
synths, whip-snapping snares, bowel-rumbling bass, pounding kick
drums, and stretched vocal drops,) but Vex'd's approach is both
fresh and instantly classic. Check out tracks like "Thunder,"
"Fire," "Lion," "Smart Bombs," and
"Destruction;" its all dark, dangerous and explosive,
for sure. Their use of space and silence within the five-to-seven-minute-long
cuts, is probably the most intoxicating skill of their productions.
Aside from the rhythms, the sound is most reminiscent of Photek's
classic releases. The duo's intentional drop-ins/drop-outs and
sonic manipulations work its way into the head and down the spine.
Minimal elements (electronic bass, drums, synths) make up the
music's foundation with digital treatments that take you into
the dark and frenzied regions of rave culture, conjuring images
of glow sticks dancing in the air, sweat dripping down your face
and back, eyes glazed.
This debut from Vex'd is better than the grime comps on Rephlex,
and much more raw and rave influenced than any of the MCs currently
riding that wave. Another interesting aspect of this record would
be the slight variations of the rhythm styles from all the aforementioned
sub-genres. Vex'd seem to have taken the last 10 years of underground
music, in its different mutations, and blended them all together
into one cohesive album. If you're into the likes of Venetian
Snares, Team Shadetek, the ragga-dub influence of classic D 'n'
B, producers like Dj/Rupture, Mutamassik and Muslimgauze, or if
you're just waiting for the UK to give you a grime classic not
aimed at the pop charts, here ya go. Not for the lightweight,
but don't say I didn't warn you
fear not the bass. Or a good
rave. Another "lighter in the air" type of t'ing. [DG]