- It's taken a long time, but London producer Jim Coles is finally getting his dues. After years of playing the hip-hop game as 2tall, he reinvented himself as a bass producer under the name Om Unit, but it was his jungle-footwork bootlegs as Philip D Kick in 2011 that really held the secret. Since then, his music's gotten faster, and his outsider drum & bass releases on Metalheadz and Exit this year have been his most promising material yet. All of that comes to a head with Threads, his debut album for Civil Music, where he's already pumped out EP after EP of spacey future funk. And while the record isn't the furious flight of fancy some might have hoped for, Coles' rhythmic expertise and uncanny sound design are well on display, and the album wows more often than it disappoints.
Still, it's hard not to wonder "what if." Threads seemed like Coles' chance to really let the breaks fly at a time when peoples' ears are opening back up to tempos north of 140 BPM. Though half the album sits at half-time drum & bass speed, it feels as if he's afraid to go full-throttle (especially compared to his Metalheadz work). Take "Nagual," where snippets of rambunctious breaks are trapped in a dubstep template; they're held at distance, like we're hearing them from behind glass. The stalking epics "Wall Of Light" and "Wicker And Pearl," meanwhile, move the Youngsta-style dungeon dubstep aesthetic to new rhythmic frameworks, shrouded in echo with a fleet-footed touch. It's not quite a junglist flurry, but it's impressive nonetheless.
"Corridor 2013," an updated of version of the first Om Unit single from back in 2010 on Plastician's Terrorhythm, is the best evidence of Coles' considerable growth. The original was a slow-paced funk jam full of twisty melodies, but here it's updated to a drum & bass twitch with a growling bassline that'd make Paul Woolford blush. Part of the immensity comes from Coles' amazing sound design. There's something almost Hollywood in scale about the big pad blooms in the grand opener "Folding Shadows," or the way the drums reverberate like dub FX on steroids in "Jaguar."
The four vocal tracks on Threads are overwrought and out of place. They make the album one full of high peaks and deep pits (rarely do I feel so compelled to hit the skip button). That, coupled his conservative approach, makes Threads a decent album when it could have been a great one. Its easy to spend most of it daydreaming about where he'll go next—but there's still a lot to admire about where he stands now.
01. Folding Shadows
02. The Silence feat. Jinadu
03. Healing Rain
04. Jus Sayin' feat. Gone The Hero
05. Drift Interlude
06. Reverse Logic
07. Corridor 2013
09. Patients feat. MC Jabu
10. Deep Sea Pyramid
11. Wall Of Light
13. Wicker And Pearl
14. Governer's Bay
15. The Road feat. Charlie Dark