Overlook - Smoke Signals

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  • Jason Luxton, AKA Overlook, is one of drum & bass's most talked-about artists. The Bournemouth-based producer's take on the genre is balanced on a razor's edge between functionality and experimentation. That careful contrast defines his tracks, which can be quiet and subdued or huge and immersive. (That split personality was best illustrated on 2014 12-inch for Narratives.) Luxton has been a favourite of DJs like Doc Scott, Loxy and the Samurai Music crew since he was a teenager, but it wasn't until he landed on Ruffhouse and Gremlinz's equally young and promising label UVB-76 that he truly found a home. There are plenty of gems in the album's first half. On "River's Edge," scuffed percussion is teased beneath a filter. The drums come to life in one giant flash, and then they're gone. It's a stunning moment that turns the typical bass drop on its head, and one of the many ways in which Luxton subtly plays with drum & bass tradition. There's also "Out Of The Unknown," a sparse banger flecked with noirish guitars, and the storming "Who Is This Who Is Coming," which uses techno aesthetics in the vein of Grey Area. Every track is a world of detail, where even small adjustments feel exciting. After the interlude of "The Dream Unfolds," the album's second half establishes a rowdier sound. It peaks on "Traveling Without Moving," where rolling drums and synth leads compete for your attention, followed by the funky drum workout of "Into The Night," the RZA-does-drum-&-bass rollercoaster of "Shadowplay" and the breaky blitzkrieg of "Rogue Soul." It feels a world away from, say, "River's Edge," yet the path across Smoke Signals' 70 minutes is easily traced. The atmospheres on Smoke Signals define Luxton's music, to the point where even short interludes like the title track or "Unknown Transmission" stand out. The landscapes he paints with transportive sound effects, vocal samples and sonorous synths are just as important as the drums. Like the best drum & bass albums in recent memory—Homemade Weapons' Negative Space comes to mind—Smoke Signals embodies everything that makes this music great: clever samples, rich synthesizers and, of course, killer drums.
  • Tracklist
      01. Unknown Transmission 02. River's Edge 03. Blue Rose 04. Out Of The Unknown 05. Who Is This Who Is Coming 06. Apparition feat. Ruffhouse & Gremlinz 07. The Dream Unfolds 08. Nowhere Else To Go 09. Travelling Without Moving 10. Into The Night feat. Cern 11. Shadowplay 12. Rogue Soul feat. Mono 13. Smoke Signals