DMX Krew - You Exist

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  • Over the last 20-plus years, Ed Upton has released an incredible amount of music on a range of labels, including Rephlex, Spectral Sound, Permanent Vacation and his own Breakin' Records. Under his best-known alias, DMX Krew, the British producer adds Hypercolour to the list with his first release of 2016, You Exist. The nine-track album continues to mine the type of machine-made, synth-streaked music this prolific artist has written throughout his extensive career. Album opener "Spiritual Encounter" sets the tone: straightforward but rhythmically effective, it's propelled by hardware beats and bouncing basslines that underpin a series of playful melodic hooks and buzzy chords. That no-nonsense production approach appears throughout You Exist, with Upton's penchant for clever synth lines at the forefront of each track. As it develops, the LP strikes a healthy balance between 4/4 material and broken beat grooves. Disco-laced tracks like "Wooly Hat" and "Hard Copy" spread spacey sequences over steady kicks, while "Dark Rider," "Daylight Saving" and the frantically funky "Parallel Universes" use electro beats under their woozy assemblages of sci-fi synth work. It's clear that Upton comes from an older school of electronic music. He's been making tracks since the early '90s, he has a large array of aliases, he's unstoppably prolific and all of his music sounds like it was made with a few synths and a drum machine. His decades-long consistency and loyalty to his craft can be reassuring, but it can also create limitations. All of You Exist is built with more or less the same components: drum machines establish the rhythm, a melodic hook is presented early on (eventually joined by chords or other synth lines), before being stripped away and brought back shortly thereafter. Save for the dark, driving "Computational Paradigm Shift," or the pleasantly meandering "Black Poppy," Upton spends little time developing atmosphere and takes few left turns. You Exist is another quality effort from a producer who has more than proven his credentials over the past two decades. After nine tracks, though, one can't help but feel like there were some missed opportunities here. Especially for a producer with dozens of albums to his name (to say nothing of singles), Upton is too hesitant to stretch his aesthetic boundaries. The result is an album that, rich as it is, feels constrained by its sonic parameters.
  • Tracklist
      01. Spiritual Encounter 02. Bombay Mix 03. Hard Copy 04. Dark Rider 05. Daylight Saving 06. Woolly Hat 07. Parallel Universes 08. Computation Paradigm Shift 09. Black Poppy