Craggz and Parallel are no newcomers to producing, having made a name for themselves with liquid d&b throughout the mid-2000’s into the next decade, before dropping off almost entirely just a couple years ago. Some may have feared the pair was on the cusp of retirement, but the truth is that they had rebranded under the singular moniker Battery. This new project is marked by a strikingly dark and experimental sound, signing tracks to heavyweight labels ProgRAM and Renegade Hardware. The newly-dropped Take 4 EP marks their second four track release on the inimitable Metalheadz, following up from a stellar EP in early 2016.
Take 4 kicks off with its title track, a lowkey two-step affair whose intro sees kicks and snares start and stop under murky chime samples. A heavily-filtered bass synth enters the mix, throbbing and springing up in time with the kick. A short while passes before the drums change up in a halftime shuffle and the bass plays a riff in higher register; this goes on for a few measures before dropping back into the main progression. It’s a surprising choice to both lead off and name the entire release, but nevertheless a well-executed and unique cut.
The second tune on the EP, “Future Proof” opens with pads reminiscent of a Fender-Rhodes piano, soon joined by a fluttering drum break and phased vocal samples. These elements are undercut by a distant reverberated drone, filling out like crashes of waves on a beach. A subtle bass wobble kicks in and the pads disappear, as the drone becomes more pronounced and foreboding. There are teases of the pads and vocal samples, along with a reprisal of the drone throughout the track, which makes for an interesting cross between the classic Metalheadz sound and dub reggae.
The penultimate song is “Shake Down”, the darkest and most foreboding track of the EP. Clatter of the high hats, shuffling kicks and snares are undercut by the wobble of a theremin pad and booming sub bass, joined by the occasional buzz of a churning textural reese and the in-and-out fades of ghostly reverberations- it all adds up to an excellent contrast to the final song. Closing out the EP is “Everything”, an airy liquid roller with a somewhat dissonant piano chord played throughout the track. It imparts something of a moody, restless undertone to what would otherwise be a rich, uplifting liquid composition. The result is difficult to describe, but a results in a very unique and nuanced tune, a perfect bookend to the release.
The most refreshing thing about this EP is how understated but striking each of its songs are. There’s something about each track which is familiar to styles heard elsewhere, yet there are clever divergences in aesthetic and composition which make for a really satisfying listen. This EP is a statement; it’s bold for how stripped-back and subtle it is, but the atmosphere it projects to the listener is unmistakable. Some many artists talk big of bucking trends and blazing a trail all their own, but so few actually live up to such lofty expectations. With Take 4, Battery have obviously established themselves as the latter.
Rated A: Awesome. A work of nuance and vision, the essence of drum & bass as we know it.