Current Value has dropped his latest full-length release on Noisia’s Invisible imprint, Deadly Toys. The album is sure to draw comparisons with 2016’s Biocellulose, a sublime release which saw the German producer break new ground aesthetically and commercially, but the new record is a different animal altogether: Biocellulose played like Current Value’s take on some of the most popular styles of drum and bass, whereas Deadly Toys sounds like a deconstruction of today’s most popular dnb tropes and spun up with all his calling cards.
The album is chock full of classic Current Value elements: atmospheric pads, eerie drones, robotic vocal samples, heavy ring modulation and filtering. Probably the most consistent aspect of the album is a consistent sense that things are familiar and alien at the same time.
Take the LP’s title track for example: its intro makes use of ring modulated drones and a murky, low-midrange hum, before dropping into a manic, arhythmic wobble… the song evokes a sort of jump-up vibe, but at the same time sounds distinct from anything ever to come from that subgenre.
Deadly Toys’ influences are not exclusive to drum & bass, either. Far and away the biggest surprise of the album is its eighth track, “That Smile”. This composition opens in halftime with a shimmering, echo-laden electric piano riff and gated reverbed drums, effectively a Current Value interpretation of vaporwave, which cuts out abruptly for a buzzy FM synth lead and metallic wobbles.
Long-time Current Value fans will likely enjoy the latter half of the album for resembling his previous releases: “Scenario” kicks in with a metallic, dissonant lead and stabbing, sharp snare hits. “Heli Aggression” stands as the most unrelenting cut of the album, hitting its drop a minute in and riding its lead like a carbine rifle right to the end of the track.
Perhaps the only track which could have followed that song’s relentless energy is the album’s the closing track “All Terrain”. The closer is opened with a beautiful arpeggiated, pad-laden intro and distant rave-like stabs, followed up by sort of neurofunk lead synth like a revving engine. It’s comparatively subdued alongside the other twelve tunes, but is arguably the coolest bit of sound design in an LP packed to the brim with surprises.
If this review reads like it’s grasping for straws in an attempt to describe this record using familiar terms, it’s because Current Value has honed himself so immaculately over the years that descriptions of his work are so arbitrary but to say it is his. You may hear elements of neuro, of jump-up, of dark dnb, crossbreed, even vaporwave as you peruse Deadly Toys, but you won’t mistake it for another producer anywhere in the world.