- Cyrus’s debut ‘From The Shadows’ might be built from a minimal palette, but there is a lot going on. Surprisingly, it arrives on DJ Pinch's Bristol-based label Tectonic, a label more associated with speaker-crushing dubstep than the almost bass-less percussive experiments found here. Cyrus strips dubstep down to its core on the album: Gone are the decorations and almost all of the bottom end, instead the damage is delivered through the brutal weight of the kick drum interleaved by simple sonic textures that slide freely around beneath the surface in slick, fast-running oily tides.
It is a sound first heard in 2005 on Cyrus' well-received 'Random Trio EP', and two of the cuts from that record appear again here. Cyrus formed Random Trio with Omni in 2002, and after stints at the legendary Rinse FM, and ingrained with the eternal spirit of South London’s pirate radio scene, Cyrus now seems to be branching more out into his own sound world to great effect.
His music has often been compared to Burial’s urban melancholy, and at times there are parallels with Photek’s drill n bass or Shackleton’s ethnic percussive pressure, particularly on ‘Indian Stomp’, the most emotive track on the album. But overall such comparisons are misleading. Cyrus almost comes across more old school, more breakbeat science, but at a slower pace. You wont find Burial’s sensitivity, 'From The Shadows' has instead the lucid urban dream/nightmare qualities of Aphex Twin’s ‘Selected Ambient Works II’, particularly on tracks such as ‘Mind Games’ and ‘Dirt’. And where Photek and Shackleton are sculptured, Cyrus is almost completely modular: there is a strange absence of fluidity, in its place a pure construction ethic, with parts of beats put together like Lego. And even though the tracks are built from similar pieces, the overall effect is strangely diverse.
'From The Shadows' gathers pace and intensity as it moves on, such that by the end it seems almost frantic. The key to this effect is the space and detail in the snare sounds, which add gas to the kick drum breaks as the album warms up. And while there isn't much bass to be found, it's not completely absent. ‘The Watcher’, for example, contains a signature dubstep bass, yet it is played almost like a fat, pulsing drone than a real bootylicious bottom end. Tracks such as ‘Paradise Dub’ and ‘Calm Before The Storm’ are underpinned by traces of bass warble, too. Indeed, if you listen carefully, you'll hear yet beautiful waves of almost invisible deepness in every track.
Which is why ‘From The Shadows’ is not really music for the iPod. It is an album of almost inaudible sounds, subtleties, inflections and sleight of hand. Headphones will give you a clue where to listen, but the volume knob certainly puts the physicality of this music in its rightful place. You could do a lot worse than give yourself some ear damage by turning this one up.
2 Mind Games
3 Paradise Dub
4 Rasta From
7 Calm Before The Storm
8 The Watcher
9 Indian Stomp
10 Dark Future
11 Crying Game
12 From The Shadows