- "No-nonsense," "relentless," "plenty of muscle," "thick, brooding and atmospheric," and "all kind of similar" are some of the more telling adjectives that RA has bestowed upon Drumcode releases in the past couple of years. True, they could apply to the label's output for any of its decade-and-a-half span, and certainly, they adhere nicely to 15 Years of Drumcode: two CDs or 3.5 digital hours of all-new tracks, the whole thing all instantly definitive the first time you hear it. But the word I keep thinking of is "simple," even though 15 Years is obviously anything but: everything here has clearly and audibly been fussed over till absolutely ready.
That's what label founder Adam Beyer takes as his primary motivator. Craft, not innovation, is the draw, unless improved sound design counts, which it very well may. But if 15 Years' consistent quality is what impresses the first time around, what makes it more than simply another label showcase is that how, on subsequent plays, it stops being impressive and starts simply being enjoyable.
Drumcode likes it dark: Joseph Capriati's remix of Beyer's "A Walking Contradiction" evokes long, dark tunnels as readily as mid-'90s darkcore jungle, its bulbous low end (a small bass lick at the end of each bar is the track's real, near-subliminal hook) and titchy, slurping percussion making it stomp all the harder. Jesper Dahlbäck's "No Control" is even spookier: a couple vocal snips are filtered till they resemble vapor, and float over the top of sharp hats and an unrelenting, bouncing kick—psychedelic, even acidic and all without a 303 in earshot.
Paul Ritch's "Adrenaline" makes precise programming evoke driving on rough road—fuzzy-focused blipping keyboard refrain at the center, swarming FX and more cymbals than a Zildjian warehouse. Like a lot of what's here, it's expansive and frequently lush on the one hand, no-nonsense and core-tough on the other. And sometimes it's just tough, as on Nicole Moudaber's "Contents of My Head," which apparently consists of the hardest-clonking drums she could grab. Sure, it's a little one-dimensional—not even Ben Sims' "Make That Shit Funk" has much syncopation going on. But 15 Years' relentlessness can draw you in even when you think you're not in the mood.
01. Kaiserdisco - Drum Suspension
02. Alan Fitzpatrick - Running Backwards
03. Paul Ritch - Adreneline
04. Mauro Picotto and Riccardo Ferri - Asteroids
05. Patrick Siech - Structure
06. Jesper Dahlback- No Control
07. Joel Mull - Shake Trip
08. Cari Lekebusch and Joseph Capriati - Napoli 4pm
09. Gregor Tresher - At The Fall Of Night
10. Adam Beyer - A Walking Contradiction (Joseph Capriati
01. Grindvik and Billie - Hold, Doubt, Back
02. Slam - Temperance
03. Nagano Kitchen - Black Panther
04. Gary Beck - Round Your Place
05. Chris Liebing and Brian Sanhaji - The Undertaking
06. Ben Sims - Make That Shit Funk
07. Nicole Moudaber - Contents Of My Head
08. Slam - Sonic Scuffl e
09. Roberto Capuano - Oblique
10. Rocco Caine - Orphan