Droids Twitch Again

Mix CD shows why people used to care about drum'n'bass

Drum'n'bass always prided itself on being vanguard music, perpetually moving forward. Six years ago, though, the music reached a frenetic standstill, a treadmill churn of jackknifing beats and bass riffs like endless anagrams of the same doom-blare notes. When lapsed believers (such as me) squabble with still-believers, it's like Led Zep fans arguing with Iron Maiden supporters: No, no, can't you see, it's not the same thing at all!

Built entirely from tracks on his label Offshore, New York DJ Clever's mix CD is so refreshing because it makes like the last six years never happened. The Offshore sound takes off from the genre's moment of supreme musical ripeness, when beats were densely micro-edited but still swinging: the hyper-syncopated drum talk and lush 'n' eerie textures of Source Direct and 4 Hero. New output from veterans of that time (Deep Blue and Justice, associated with the once peerless label Moving Shadow) appears on Troubled Waters alongside brilliant younger producers like Paradox and Sileni (whose "Twitchy Droid Leg" is title of the year). Seamlessly mixed (quite a feat given that almost everything Clever's young label has released is on the CD).

DJ Clever convinces lapsed believers.
photo: Megan Jolly
DJ Clever convinces lapsed believers.

Troubled Waters propels you on DJ culture's proverbial journey, a thrilling ride across dark and light, frenzy and serenity. And Clever will be doing it live on Friday, September 17, at Spill (196 Orchard Street), sharing the bill with Chris Walton of Inperspective Records—Offshore's London ally in the resurgence of breakbeats that actually break and basslines that move inside the groove.

 
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