Reflections LP – AGN7 Audio
As we decent into the final lap of 2020, we are graced with another brilliant collection of audio greatness. AGN7 Audio has taken a series of their previous releases and had them remastered by the legendary Macc. Giving them a fresh tank of oxygen to breath new life in the AGN7 catalog. Casting an ominous, but not obvious take on a more mature and developed style of drum and bass music.
What is this “dystopian” drum and bass style they hail.
AGN7 has described its style of music to be “dystopian dnb”. Which to me means. Music that is crafted for a unknown future. Art created to reflect the uncertainty in the universe. With sounds and audio textures that mimick a cold and mechanical world. Where totalitarianism and humanity clash head to head. Music made for the underground bunkers we bury our depression and anxiety’s in. The type of sound that imitates the relationship between pure energy and rotting flesh.
There has been a disconnect between the listener, the environment, and the process constructing dnb these days. The sequence of songs chosen. The way that they are assembled together in a tracklist. Along with, the intentional array of style and genre choices. They all create an album that tells a story from start to finish.
With artists such as Acid Lab, Beatnok, nCamargo, D-Struct, Rainforest, Heatwave, Flare, Indijinous, Code906, Dreadmaul, Ornate Hawkins, and the AGN7’s themselves. We embark on a out of body experience. Traveling between the synaptic firing of drumfunk, deep halftime, future jungle, tech step, and classic dnb.
This LP slows down the tempo allowing us to take it all in. Cranks up the production method so we can pick apart each individual layer. Completely dials in the sonic display of what great mastering can accomplish. And most importantly, puts forward an album that can be enjoyed over, and over again. Regardless of the imaginary rules set by a vicious time construct.
LET’S DIVE INTO THE JAMS!!!
There are 16 amazing tunes featured on this release. So I decided to take them into a couple of sections based on their flow together.
Acid Lab – Lockout (2020 RM) , Beatnok – Organix ( 2020 RM) , AGN7 Audio – Vignette are all tunes that take the listener to a more relaxing state. The arrangements of these tunes take me back to the place and time in dnb where deeper and soulful styles were key. A time when the intent on bringing so many styles of music, culture, and construct was the focal point. Every piece here exists as its own brush, with its own color. But together they create a flow and spectrum that allows us to breath and enjoy the craftsmanship.
We get various forms of warm synths, funky drum patterns, rich bass tones, and electricity bleeps coming from analog patching. Sometimes when going back to these songs. It feels like a computer is trying to communicate human emotion, with a synthetic voice. Desperately trying to configure millions of lines of code into one meaningful human sentence.
Heatwave and Akins – False Awakenings(2020 RM) , Heatwave and Dreadmaul – Dub X (2020 RM) , D-Struct- Golem (2020 RM) , nCamargo- Bulk, Rainforest- Rebellion, are the tunes that make up the darker spectrum of this album. We get a sense of anxiety, depression, fear, resentment , and dissolvement from these selections. They all come to a mix of halftime and circuit driven tech step. Dropping the listener directly down the rabbit hole. Into voids that replicate the feeling one has when they close their eyes and let their chemical imbalance do the talking.
When you put all these songs back to back. It feels like the time you discovered what quantum mechanics were. Becoming aware of the lawnmower man. To actually becoming the lawnmower man itself. Every sound in this collection releases a dark art, wearing the 3d printed skin suit of the saddest part of your own self conscious.
The Tech and Funk:
Acid Lab- Retrograde (2020 rm) , D-Struct-Solitude (2020 RM) , Flare- Arguments, nCamargo- Vendetta, Beatnok- Synthetix(2020 RM) , Ornette Hawkins- Raw Sun (2020 RM) press the button here. Each one of these tunes transports the directly to the era of dark tech step and funky rollers. We can take a journey through the wormhole, or step onto the uneven floorboards in the subterraneous rave scene. The stylistic choices made and perfected by each one of these artists is magical. So much time and effort is made these days to replicate what we like. In this case, these artists decided to use their time and knowledge to recreate and era, but in their own image.
So many times we listen to music and quit listening. We make assumptions that “this” sounds like “this”. Or “this guy” made “this song” thats just like “this. But within this series of jams. Every tunes has its own path. And each selection is enjoyed as its own varietal. As if these were a series of wines enjoyed by a sommelier. Who can use an educated background and decades of tasting to instinctively pick out every unique nuance each sound has to offer.
AGN7 Audio – Mantra (2020 RM) , Indijinous & Code 906- Tenebre slam the jungle book closed. I wasn’t expecting to get a couple brockout jams on this release. But I’m glad there are. The AGN7’s have about 40 years combined experience taking enemy fire deep within the jungle. So getting a future jungle tempo styled banger was huge. The tune starts off in a safe place. But by the second drop. The AGN7’s heave you out of the chopper and into the viper pit. This tune is serious business, and is a deadly way to kick off a LP that preaches restraint.
Indijinous has always traveled quit well in this lane. The take on jungle music by this one is always genuine and respectful. Usually in the forefront of the battle to bring tech inspired dark amen’s and riddims back to our culture. With release on other labels such as Tech Itch, we know the force is real with this one. And it hits you like the first time you blast live resin terps. So nasty, so unhinged, and so damn tasty!
I have been sitting on this release for a few weeks now. Its definitely my style of broad dnb. Meaning, I like it when it hits all the expectations of the genre. But it doesn’t follow the direction of where dnb is trying to go. It goes its own way and follows its own rules. This LP pays homage to the innovators of the past, while making us more familiar with the major players sculpting the genre for the future. Reflections displays a certain maturity that has lost its touch in dnb. This is an album for a listener with a more developed musical palette and background. This is also the type of record that takes the average club or rave kid, and exposes them to a spectrum of sound and art they do not hear in their normal bubble. Turning a “fan” into a “connoisseur”.
In an era where club bangers, cookie cutter 3 min jump up blasters, and ultra high energy music is all the rage. AGN7 released a timeless album that is completely on brand. Exquisitely arranged and mastered. And most importantly, not created to top the “charts”. Or get some fussy nomination from some fussy lads from a hive mind fan base for an awards ceremony that the majority of the entertainment industry won’t even acknowledge .