Since its inception in 2015 the Evolutions series on Blackout Music has delivered instalment after instalment of the most devious drum and bass showcasing talent from producers across the board conjuring compositions from the darkest depths to destroy dancefloors far and wide and shape the sound of drum and bass for years to come. And now the final chapter is about to be unleashed as Blackout concludes with Evolutions Volume 10: eight massive tracks that will continue to transform the progression of drum and bass, a structurally sound album comprised of diverse forward thinking sounds.
I had an epic opportunity this week to ask the amazingly talented artists on this release a few questions about the Evolutions series. Let’s take a look at some of their thoughts on the project before diving into the review!
How do you think the Evolutions series has influenced Drum & Bass over the course of its time?
Trinist: It has always been a collage of fresh drum & bass and upcoming artists. So I think it has given many artists a place where fresh inspiration starts and new ideas flow. It has become a real concept that many are familiar with.
Xeonz: Evolutions has influenced drum and bass massively, I am starting to hear a lot more of the same style throughout various releases on different labels, I have always aimed to have a release on Blackout as the specific style has always been an interest for me to produce.
Smooth: I think it was an important contribution to the darker/neuro side of Drum N Bass. It delivered already known artists and also a lot of new names which are not so prominent in the scene.It gave a chance to young/ less known producers and at the same time always delivered fire tunes and kept it on the highest level possible!
Disphonia: It has definitely influenced the scene immensely as its produced some of the Blackout’s biggest tracks and its been a good way to introduce artist that are on the way up and shaped the sound for the better
Kutlo: Massive influence. Legendary tracks came from these series such as Bass Symptom or Rei. Also lots of producers like Merikan or Disprove went big because of it. It shaped the drum and bass sound in 2017/2018 for me.
Liveon: The amount of its impact is no question. It introduced a lot of new talent with fresh ideas from diverse musical masterpieces. What’s interesting it didn’t just bring good music to us. The graphics inspired many people and they wear it on their t-shirt. (artwork by Tom Hamel)
Cyntax: The series started around the same time I got into neurofunk so it’s hard for me to contrast the impact it’s had but what I can say is that so many tracks have inspired me in my journey as a producer.
Khronos: The Heavy on vol. 1 is one of my favorite tracks!
V O E: On a personal level for us it has had a huge influence as our first Blackout release on Volume 7 being a huge breakthrough for us. Overall though we think the Evolutions series has had an awesome influence, especially through providing opportunities for lesser known artists but in general as another way to get more heavy drum & bass out into the world!
Jon Tho: Don’t need to say much, just look at the amount of artists that are blowing up or had already blown up recently, that had at least one of their first releases on the Evolution Series… It’s insane.
Transforma: It’s been a big part in the evolution of sound in Drum & Bass over the years. Always been a massive fan over the entire series. Bringing in exciting new talent to Blackout who always bring something new to the table each and every installment.
Volatile Cycle: It’s done exactly what it says on the tin, evolved!
As you could imagine being included as part of any instalment in the Evolutions Series must be an honor as an artist, especially the final chapter!!
How did it feel producing a track for the final installment of the Blackout Evolutions series?
Trinist: A true blessing always got inspired by tracks from the Evolution series so it’s a real honor to be on the final one!
Xeonz: I was extremely excited to release on the last installment of Evolutions as I have been listening to the series for a while, and I have always been interested in the style of the releases.
Smooth: It was amazing and also it was the first collab we had done with Disphonia and we finished it surprisingly fast which means it was meant to be really. It is an honor to be a part of this big series of releases and I think we ended a chapter on the same note it started.
Disphonia: It’s an honor as this VA Ep Series have always, we feel, been about up and coming artist bringing their A-game to the table. By doing this Blackout takes a bold step in entrusting new people to bring their best work. We have had the honor to appear on 2 volumes of this legendary series and gain a good working relationship with the label.
Kutlo: At the time of making this tune we did not know it would end up on Evolutions. We just wanted to make something that we both like and would be proud of. My original idea lacked a kind of bigger depth and vibe and Liveon brought it there instantly. The first version was made really quick and we just focused on details and mixdown via a few online calls. The whole process was fun and I think there will be some more collabs in the future.
Liveon: Sometimes I feel like I’m narrow minded with my production choices. Doing collabs brings a new world to me and that has happened during this project with Kutlo. I really think we nailed something special, after we put a lot of effort into this. The Evolution series will stay legendary and I’m more than happy to contribute to its proper finale.
Cyntax: It feels crazy to have a track on any installment of Evolutions but being the last one makes it that extra bit special and I’m glad to be part of a small piece of DnB history.
V O E: The Blackout Evolutions series means a lot to us as our first ever release on Blackout was on Evolutions Volume 7. So getting to be a part of Volume 10 definitely inspired us to push our track to the next level and make something we are extremely proud of.
Jon Tho: Feel honored to be a part of these series, specially being the last one. Now that I make music under my new alias Jon Tho, it was really important for me to have this exposure, and I think at the end of the day that is the purpose of the “Evolutions” series, to let upcoming names/artists to showcase their material under the strict quality control Blackout is known for.
Transforma: It’s such a special feeling…To be a part of the final series on my favorite label is truly a blessing…. So thanks a bunch guys!
Volatile Cycle: Great to be on board the blackout train at long last!
The support among the creators on this album is inspiring! It’s great to see such excitement for the project as a whole. Looks like Jon Tho (formerly Fragz) has a hot new sound that many are eager to hear!
Which track were/are you most excited to hear from this album?
Trinist: ”Jon Tho – The Way You Were” for sure. Absolute madness, the creativity engulfs on this track.
Xeonz: Jon Tho – The Way You Were is the track I am most excited to hear, the powerful reeses combined with the ambient atmosphere make for such an amazing listening experience.
Smooth: I was super excited about Jon Tho – The Way You Were. What a banging tune this is!
Disphonia: We were excited in general as all of them sound unique and they have been very meticulously crafted! Big up all involved!
Kutlo: Every track is a very nice perspective of producers on a modern sound. I am really glad that a bunch of talented people got together on this special project.
Liveon: I guess all sound awesome, so I’m excited about every piece of music there.
Cyntax: Any track with Disphonia or Smooth gets me excited, put them together then…
V O E: Hard to pick just one but we’d have to say ‘Jon Tho – The Way You Were’ was definitely one we were excited to hear especially after hearing his Sundials EP a few months ago!
Jon Tho: Trinist’s “Eradicate” is a hell of a track. I’m always up for some out of the box stuff and in my opinion this track has everything I like in modern Drum & Bass, so, big ups Trinist! Gotta give a shout out to Volatile Cycle and Transforma’s tune, pretty pretty cool as well.
Transforma: Jon Tho – The Way You Were for sure.
Volatile Cycle: Jon Tho (Fragz) is an absolute mad man.
I asked the artists to describe their tracks in one word so to summarize the release we have Xeonz’s “Apollo” that’s BOUNCY, an ENORMOUS & PLUMP track from Smooth & Disphonia with “Plump”, “Eradicate” from Trinist that’s ready for INTERCHAGE OR ALTERNATION, “Reboot” from Liveon & Kutlo bringing the SCRATCHY (Liveon) RESPONSE (Kutlo), Cyntax’s ATMOSPHERIC “Laser Beam, a POETIC piece from V O E with “Revenant”, a (Transforma) PERCY HEATER (Volatile Cycle) on “Rogue” and a big FAREWELL from Jon Tho in “The Way You Were”.
And now it’s time to dive deep into Blackout’s Evolutions Volume 10!
Jon Tho’s “The Way You Were” leads it off with a dark symphonic intro as the synths build cautiously through the build with soothing ambience. The drop rolls into a technical hybrid as the orchestrated elements flow vicariously. The strings and keys harmonize as the slip amidst the smooth rhythms and deep reece basslines in this exciting and unique composition. The vocal effects really pop contributing warmth and melody, a true showcase of the future of dnb in “The Way You Were”. The reason for the anticipation on this track is clear, you won’t want to miss it!
“Plump” combines the artistic talents of Smooth and Disphonia creating an unbeatable banger leading in with galactic effects on the intro morphing into a fury of firepower oscillating toward the drop as the energy peaks spilling into thick layers of intricately composed beats that blaze amidst big breaks and wild effects. The highs spray spastically sparkling through the mix as the melodies enhance the energetic vibe. “Plump” is smooth yet merciless combining a burly bassline with technical neurofunk and plenty of variations in the measures to keep things moving in the mix. A savage combination that is sure to awaken the beast. This is a collab that we can agree was definitely meant to be!
Liveon and Kutlo come together on “Reboot” starting off with suspenseful synths that chug through the intro over tender atmospherics but the darkness lurks below as the build grows enticing the rhythms that tease to the drop. Heavy, brutal and bassy “Reboot” thrives building and bending the bassline as it roars relentlessly winding between phrases as a skeletal rhythm beats steadily shifting into a softer phrase before the breakdown. “Reboot” from Liveon and Kutlo pushes the boundaries of drum and bass with the meeting of two creative minds for a fresh direction in sound design.
Trinist’s contribution to Evolutions Volume 10 “Eradicate” may be short in design but packs a huge punch in its time as dark melodies stretch through the intro inviting the brutality of the beat charging toward the drop. Vigorously broken beats blast between dubby bass as the highs cheep and chirp packing a punch as “Eradicate” crescendos to enhance the energy. Variations in the composition show clever sound design and Trinist displays a distinctive vibe.
“Rogue” combines the powerful forces of Volatile Cycle and Transforma in this ultra techy banger easing in with a harmonic intro that rises into a solid beat as the highs dominate animating the mix only to break and breathe before the explosive drop. Smashing through the measures the energy runs high as the artistry in composition melds manic melodies with heavenly harmonies and intricately composed rhythms into a monster of a track. Plump basslines, colourful fills and effects and warm ambience through synthesized vocalizations and pristine highs will riddle the mix with dynamic intensity and bring the dance floor to life. Extreme attention to detail in the layout of this piece exhibits a strong sense of music theory and sound design, making “Rogue” a perfect fit for the influence of the Evolutions series.
V O E lends their talents to the Evolutions series once more with “Revenant” an emotive vocal piece that provides unmatched energy only V O E can facilitate. Soft synthesized strings and airy atmospherics lend ample space for Tevlo’s smooth, moody vocal to resonate with power to the drop. Flipping into hyper speed the highs dominate spiralling out of control as the composition continues to spark, pop and explode as it bubbles up through the measures. Harmonics hold the vibe and the instrumentals create a whirlwind of sound in this complete carnival of carnage. The second drop is even more intense with a mind blowing violent half time twist bringing new life to the mix. Be sure to play “Revenant” through to the last note a stellar vocal outro wraps things up with style as V O E’s production is like no other. Their contributions to the Evolutions series and beyond have been crucial in the progression of the drum and bass sound.
Xeonz’s “Apollo” exhibits a vibe all its own as it pounds symphonically through the build. Thick, deep and emotive “Apollo” is set to rejuvenate the mix as soft vocalizations carry the mood over punchy snares and a deep, resonating bassline that rolls as the aggressive beats flow. Xeonz ventures into uncharted territories of sound design with this soul crushing sound that absolutely pounds.
“Laser Beam” from Cyntax wraps up Evolutions Volume 10 with immense form creeping in on a sleepy intro until the highs break free running wild powering up toward the impending doom. Staggered vocal cuts enhance the mood while the kicks and snares consume formulating the heavy, rocking neuro bomb that’s about to explode. A massive dose of supercharged firepower storms from all sides blasting with brutal, devastating basslines punching as they unfold. A mid phrase break brings “Laser Beam” back to attack once more annihilating the dance floor with monumental sounds that will leave them begging for more. Cyntax hit the mark with this one and we can’t wait to hear more from this up and comer that’s for sure.
Now that the Evolutions series has come to an end what’s next for Blackout Music? Here’s what the artists would like to see:
What do you hope to see from the next wave of Blackout?
Trinist: New creative drum & bass in many different forms. With some aggressive melodic tracks and weird experimental stuff.
Xeonz: For the next wave of Blackout I hope to see more of the same that’s being released at the moment, its top tier. If it isn’t broken don’t fix it!
Smooth: More of the same I hope as I am never disappointed in what Blackout puts out and brings to the scene. I am glad I am now a part of it not only as Telekinesis, but also as Smooth!
Disphonia: We’d like to see more of what Blackout already does well. Embrace new bold and eccentric ideas while retaining some of the maturity and rave sonics from the past.
Kutlo: Progress but also a tradition. Maintain a golden standard of darker and energetic sound of drum and bass. Let’s see what the future holds and shape it to our vision.
Liveon: Whatever it will be, it will set a new trend which I hope will have a similar -if not better – influence as Evolution was.
Cyntax: Blackout has been pushing the boundaries of neurofunk and drum and bass for years. I hope the next wave continues to do so (and know it will) whilst revisiting the roots it built itself on.
V O E: More music that pushes the boundaries of production and sound design whilst playing the soundtrack to a cinematic dystopian world.
Jon Tho: I think from what I’ve been hearing from Blackout most recently, the direction will resonate with what BSE is all about: progress and evolution. I think modern Drum & Bass will be one of the main focuses of Blackout. Always on the top of the spear 😀
Transforma: Definitely another VA series showcasing fresh talent who continue to push boundaries in their music!!
Volatile Cycle: More of the same!
I have info straight from the source that says:
IT’S TIME TO START A NEW REVOLUTION!
I think the artists and fans alike will be more than pleased. Blackout Music’s next goal is to showcase fresh talent up and coming in drum and bass. We can’t wait to see the new names and forward thinking techniques as Blackout continues to influence and form the future of drum and bass.
Keep it locked to Best Drum and Bass we’ll be sure to keep you up to date on all the latest from Blackout Music.
Blackout Evolutions Volume 10 is out now! Get your copy here: https://music.blackoutmusic.nl/Evolutions10
A heartfelt thank you to all of the artists in the Evolutions Series present and past who have contributed their talents to keep the sound of drum and bass forever moving forward. And thank you all who participated in Volume 10 for taking the time to contribute your thoughts to this feature on the finale. Be sure to follow all of these artists on their socials!