Paradox is making his solo debut for Metalheadz, having signed almost half a dozen releases over a decade-plus in collaboration with Nucleus. The two-tracker of Toprock and Orion is classic Paradox, jungle-like-van der Rohe in its stark use of sampling to paint a bleak, minimalist landscape on each side.
“If a person cannot handle themselves in a battle, they don’t deserve to call themselves a b-boy,” opens the A-side “Toprock”, a journey through the golden era hip-hop by way of vocal snippets over a sparse two-step groove. It opens simply with kicks and snares, building with the addition of ride cymbal hits and a simple sub bass. Halfway through the composition is a brief accompaniment of stabs over a dub reggae-style delay, before gradually letting out over the course of the last two minutes.
“Orion” is similar in its use of found audio, though it revels in something of a darker vibe, evocative of dub reggae, with heavy use of delay, effected percussive samples, a halftime groove and a saturated bass synth.
There is so little to describe of these two songs, and therein lies their power: much of modern drum & bass is about pushing the envelope of sound design, with cutting-edge mastering techniques to cram countless elements into songs. As exciting as it is to see producers forge ahead in making music, it is equally exciting to see producers stick with the basics, as Paradox has for about 20 years now.