Breakage - Foundation

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  • This Too Shall Pass, Breakage's 2006 debut album, was shamefully overlooked, outside of drum & bass circles at least. His sophomore effort, Foundation, promises to change all that, both due to the quality of the tunes and the all-star ensemble of collaborators, which includes the likes of Roots Manuva, Burial, Donae'o and the Newham Generals. It also doesn't hurt that Foundation sees the veteran producer seamlessly gliding back and forth between his new embrace of 140 BPM territory and his typically frantic breakbeat-edit powered drum & bass. The aptly titled album opener "Open Up" gives a good taste of what is to come, namely percussively-driven bass music peppered with a dub ethos of delay, echoes and feedback; minimal, simple but effective. The Newham Generals grime things up on "Hard" with beats and lyrics very much living up to the track's title. The tense and brooding beat provides a good background to the masculine bravado of the Generals, but also makes the occasional flashes of humor all the more amusing. ("I'm a deep pan and you're a thin crust.") Things get more junglistic on "Old Skool Ting" and the title track "Foundation." Having admitted in an interview that loading up an amen break and a dub sample got too easy for him, Breakage's tracks in this vein are nonetheless interesting and considered. They take cues from the jungle of yesteryear, but bring something new and intangible as well; Breakage slices the source breaks into atoms but keeps the beat rolling and in complete balance with the bass. Closer "If" is a more restrained exercise in the same area, where jungle drum fills dance around a halfstep beat. It's not all golden, though: Kemo comes off as contrived with the me-against-the-world message of "Temper" and the electric guitar bombast of "Speechless" is a bit too much. Burial collab "Vial" sits somewhere in between; it's more Burial than Breakage, highlighting an issue with the album as a whole. The slew of collaborators detracts from the album's cohesiveness. Breakage has his hands all over Foundation, but the vocalists manage to steal the limelight, at times making the whole thing sound more like a compilation than an artist album. Despite these few shortfalls, Foundation is a good LP. Breakage clearly knows how beats and bass should come together, regardless of tempo. Hopefully this time around, those outside of the drum & bass scene will realize it as well.
  • Tracklist
      01. Open Up 02. Hardcore Music (Interlude) 03. Hard ft. Newham Generals & David Rodigan 04. Digiboy Radio (Interlude) 05. Old Skool Ting 06. Squid Bass (Interlude) 07. Run Em Out feat. Roots Manuva 08. Temper ft. Kemo 09. Over ft. Zarif 10. Higher 11. Foundation 12. Justified ft. Erin 13. Vial ft. Burial 14. Speechless feat. Donae'o 15. If... (Interlude) 16. If... ft. Threshold