Anyone familiar with the world of liquid Drum and Bass has listened to a lot of Fred V & Grafix. Whether as solo artists or as a duo, the two of them have been a driving force in the liquid scene for the past decade, and released three full-length albums on Hospital Records. The title track of their first album, ‘Recognise’ is still one of my favorite liquid tunes in recent memory. However, their second and third album moved further and further away from their deep liquid roots, and closer to the poppy, commercial Drum and Bass which I loathe. Still, the duo experienced a large amount of success, and continued to headline some of the largest Drum and Bass events in the world.
Imagine everyone’s surprise then when earlier this year it was announced that Fred V and Grafix would be going their separate ways. Although Hospital lost one of it’s major signings with their split, both of them decided to sign back on with Hospital as solo artists. Fred V released his ‘Proximity’ EP earlier this year to some amount of acclaim, but Grafix kept us waiting quite a while for his first solo release in nearly ten years.
The title track of his new EP ‘Refuge’ features Ruth Royal on vocals, and to me is by far the weakest of the four tracks. It sounds too much like the commercial Drum and Bass that made me loose interest in Fred V & Grafix in the first place. Generic female vocals layered over homogenized festival Drum and Bass make this by far the least interesting track on the EP.
However, the second track, ‘Acid Generation’, is absolutely incredible. The song pays homage to the Acid House/Techno days of the 80’s and 90’s, which gave birth to the raves and the electronic music scene of today. The metallic stabs and fierce percussion remind me of something from Phace or NEOSIGNAL, and certainly weren’t what I was expecting to hear from an artist like Grafix. If Grafix continues to produce more tracks like this, you can be sure that his tracks will be showing up in many more sets.
The last two tracks, ‘Rain Fall Down’ and ‘Photons’, are both extremely solid future liquid tunes. Photons in particular reminds me of the kind of tune that made me appreciate Grafix to begin with. He could write tunes like these for the rest of his life and they’ll continue to find their way into my sets.
Although this EP starts off on a down note with the title track, it more than makes up for it with the next three tunes. The quality of production and musicianship is there for the whole EP, but I can’t help but feel that the last three tracks are far more inspired than ‘Refuge’. Still, the entire EP is worth buying, if not just for ‘Acid Generation’ alone, and liquid fans will really eat up ‘Rain Fall Down’ and ‘Photons’ as well.