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Drum and Bass after Drum and Bass (MP3s)

The elastic percussion of drum and bass, once a radical approach to moving beats to the front line, so astonishingly new, is now a familiar sound, perhaps as close as the past decade and a half has come to contributing a new rhythm to pop music. Not that drum and bass was ever pop, really — the closest it got was as a tangent, an option, a flavor, a version to be added to the flipside of a 12″ single. The impetus for a remix commission, but not for a song itself.

But the beat, as they say, lives on, and often the drum and bass beat is at its best when it is little more than that beat: the up and down, the sideways motion, the sudden returns, the constant change in direction, the crabwalk-on-speed vibe. And those precipitous drop-outs, the ones that through the sheer and sudden absence of sound posit the entire preceding track as a kind of beat unto itself, a solid if variegated mass of noise that the silence interrupts: silence as a beat.

This is the sort of drum and bass committed by Polish producer N-Noiz (aka Marcin Witkowski), whose Unbounding the Future EP, as best represented by the track “Red Spider Nebula” (MP3), is available for free download from plainaudio.com.

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Sure, the once anarchic drum and bass beat has long become a common spice in TV commercials and Hollywood movie scores, but its virtual absence from proper pop music maintains it reputation as a permanent outsider. What was once aggressive may now be comforting, even nostalgic (fans of Photek will experience pleasurable flashbacks due to N-Noiz’s noises), but that may be for the best. We can put assault aside, and take pleasure in the sonic choreography.

By Marc Weidenbaum

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