- Ivy Lab might be the most promising drum & bass collective since Bad Company. That's a big statement, but Sabre, Stray and Halogenix are among the genre's best, each as likely to craft razor-sharp minimal rollers as they are to bust open the template entirely. Last year's debut 12-inch on Critical was weighed down by expectation, and was conservative in all the ways it could have been revelatory. The follow-up, a more substantial double-pack, isn't an about-face by any means, but it's a step in the right direction.
"Missing Persons" is the trio's third consecutive collaboration with vocalist Frank Carter III, and I'd be lying if I said they didn't have a formula by now. But they nail it to a tee with this one. Ivy Lab bathe in the sumptuousness of their own svelte production values for a whole minute, and once the drums hit they're featherweight and lightly dusted with string samples. Using the same palette for "Live On Your Smile," they borrow from ambient jungle (drifting chords) and dBridge (a vigorous bassline), but the drums are gentle like finger snaps.
"Pepper," which features Emperor, is coarser, with harder percussion and a bassline that churns threateningly underneath. They then break off from 170 BPM with the brittle "Sunday Crunk," a welcome hip-hop diversion loaded with chirpy analogue synth work. It's a nice gesture away from the status quo.
A Ivy Lab - Missing Persons feat. Frank Carter III
B Ivy Lab - Live On Your Smile
C Ivy Lab & Emperor - Pepper
D Ivy Lab - Sunday Crunk