The soulful side of drum and bass is an often-overlooked side of the genre, yet it possesses some of the richest depth in terms of track diversity and production styles. One of the seminal leaders of this side is Fokuz Recordings, a label that has been consistently exploring and expanding on that sound since 1999. Every release is top notch and the newest one, the Heathens EP by Edlan, firmly establishes the label’s reputation for issuing cutting edge material.
“Forgotten Bassment” starts the release off in the world of the dark and deep. Atmospheric echoes and a classic drum build-up creep in to bring in the drop, hitting thick and hard. The bass line has that perfect balance of sub bass with a touch of angular fuzz, fusing well with the groovy rhythm established by the track. This is a track perfectly suited for getting, as well as keeping, a dancefloor vibing hard for eternity.
Up next, we get the titular track “Heathen (Give Me More) ft Djah and Smote.” Right off the bat it continues the ambiance established by the first track; yet brings in plenty of fresh liquid elements to counterpoint it all. The ethereal vocals and smooth as silk bassline pair nicely with the driving rhythm, serving as an ideal example of the diversity of sounds found in the soulful side of DnB.
Melodic motifs are a powerful element of production that often evoke powerful emotions in us. “The Way of Time ft Smote and Bazil MC” makes strong use of this, calling on ethereal vocals and potent lyricism to further that effect. Using a hypnotic rhythm which heavily relies on a perfect snare sound, Edlan masterfully crafts a tune that grabs you by the heart and the feet at the same time; it’s one of those rare tracks that has the perfect length, yet always leaves you wishing it was jus a little bit longer.
“Get Through” closes the EP out, bringing us back to the dark side with its layers of heavy beats and moody atmospherics. The lyric sample evokes a sense of melancholy which becomes only more intense with the occasional synth roll that drifts in and out. The beat is consistent and hypnotic, creating the perfect backdrop which assists in causing your mind to drift towards introspection. The tune is a great finish to the release, as it twists all the elements found throughout the release into something all its own.
Fokuz Recordings has done it again, giving us another four tracks that firmly expand the genre into fresh and exciting territory. Most of all, it’s impressive how well each track balances the inclination towards sheer creativity while still keeping an eye on the dance floor. Grab this up ASAP!!!