- Drum & bass has never been the purest of genres. From the psychotic juxtapositions of the hardcore that spawned it to the Detroit-tinged, jazz-leaning liquid jungle of Bukem, Wax Doctor and company, right through to techstep's horror movie fixations and beyond, 150-180 BPM bass music has rarely been afraid to plunder territories afar. Nowadays, the Autonomicisation of the Continuum represents another, highly layered stage in this process, one of the hallmarks of which—not entirely new thanks to the work of Photek, Marcus Intalex and man-of-the-moment ASC—is the flirtation with, and assimilation of, other genres within the wider sphere of electronic music (primarily house/techno, electro, dubstep and classic IDM). After years of generic mid-range drudgery, it's like D&B has reawoken its primordial, pluralistic impulse, revitalising what had become—barring the steadfast amen pietism of Breakage, Equinox et al.—a living death.
If you're in need of evidence, look no further than Metalheadz's latest LP, which sees Commix's much-loved Call To Mind ripped apart and put back together again by everyone from Burial to Underground Resistance. There's barely a trace of atypical "D&B"—or any sort of D&B—in sight. The original album, released back in the dark(ish) days of 2007, was enjoyable but patchy, with standout tracks like "Satellite Type 2" (one of the best technoid rollers of the '00s) and "Japanese Electronics" (a luscious precursor to today's '80s-fetishising Tetris-stepping) rubbing up against more pedestrian fare typical of the (underground) sound of the day. Re:Call to Mind is an entirely different beast, traversing myriad styles and tempos in an attempt to break away from what, prior to the Autonomic bomb, had become an extremely restrictive milieu. Ironically, to the extent that it offers a comparably faithful picture of today's bass music underground, it succeeds.
Barring UR (a very different beast these days compared with the classic Banks/Hood/Mills model), the "big names" all perform well. Instra:mental turn in very possibly their proggiest, most Genesis-compatible number to date, piling on sunset pads and elasticised harps, while fellow nu-school reformer dBridge remoulds "Belleview" into something at once demented and powerfully driving—a masterclass in modern drum & bass engineering and the only orthodox roller on display. Meanwhile, post-rave auteur/minor celebrity Burial delivers among his deepest emissions to date, transforming Commix's anthemic (if a little overrated) "Be True" into something overtly poignant and latently menacing, an elegy to lost time and dreams unfulfilled and comfortably the best thing on the LP. As for said techno renegades, the less said the better. Downtempo gull-trance sounds about as bad in reality as it does on paper.
Elsewhere, Berghain poster-boy Marcel Dettmann chips in with a typically robust techno flexer (by no means his finest work, but a useful tool for DJs after a bit of step with their stomp), and house-going-on-2-step duties are performed stylishly by Pangaea, A Made Up Sound and Sigha, each lending their particular rhythmic intonations to Commix's tonally rich source material. But it's Kassem Mosse who steals the 4/4 show, treading similarly swampy ground to his recent NonPlus+ workout, but taking things right back to the old-school with Parrish-esque vocal loops, jacking kicks and junglist snare rolls. As far as house of a deeper bent goes, it puts Two Armadillos's kitschy take on "Spectacle" to shame. All nine minutes of it.
Said duffer(s) aside, for something billed as a "heavyweight" remix package and marketed with according clout, Re:Call to Mind is admirably underground in tone (credit to Commix for that), and testimony to Metalheadz's continued vitality in British—and global—club music. The lack of straight-up D&B will, no doubt, get up a few noses, but when you're in the business of remoulding the canon for the umpteenth time, that's hardly a concern. Call to Mind was supposed to be D&B's saving grace; three years, ten collaborators and one prefix later, and it looks like that goal is (at least somewhere) near fruition.
01. Japanese Electronics (Instramental Moog Remix)
02. How You Gonna Feel (Pangaea Remix)
03. Change (A Made Up Sound Remix)
04. Belleview (dBridge Belle-Reviewed Remix)
05. Be True (Burial Remix)
06. Strictly (Kassem Mosse Needs To Feel Edit Remix)
07. Spectacle (Two Armadillos Rhythm Of Life Remix)
08. Emilys Smile (Sigha She's Still Smiling Remix)
09. Satellite Type 2 (Marcel Dettmann Remix 1)
10. Satellite Song (Underground Resistance Remix)