Drum & Bass is an interesting genre, leaving aside that it’s my favourite. It’s a genre that still holds ties to the sounds and basics its early days had. It is evolving and developing like every electronic genre is, but, still wishes to stay true to fundamentals. It can be stunningly powerful with sounds that force you to move, or it can be comparatively calmer perfect for late nights in a blistering cold city immersed in autumn drizzle, like London or Bristol, the cities in England were this origin of incredible genre are associated with. It’s not the crazyness of Jungle, and it’s not the in-your-face-ness of Big Beat. It’s something else completely. The drums may seem repetitious, but actually opening your ears a little more and you’ll notice the bigger picture, specifically that this progression is perfect and fitting, especially when it couples with the songs’ soul found in its bass. However, there are few songs in the ever versatile drum & bass genre that will actually grab you with its subtlety.
There are few collaborations where the result really could not be more perfect and fitting than between Calyx & TeeBee. This UK/Norwegian based duo have long had a name in the Drum & Bass scene, primarily sculpted by their “Anatomy” EP release in 2007, but not without other releases together that trace back to 2004 as well, which all happen to be on their own label too. But this year the duo was signed by Ram Records and with it released 2 single records (amounting to 4 when including B sides) that like the genre itself, hold true to their unique sound, but is certainly something else. The lurching bass in “Scavenger”, the first of the four singles, takes grip of your attention, due to it’s long fade-in progression, and a variety of sounds that seem to appear out of nowhere for seconds before they disappear in the undertones of the track. It’s B side “Stepping Stones” starts with a bongo drum, slow ambient synth and wispy voice, a stark contrast to it’s A side companion, but nevertheless the futuristic way-ahead-of-it’s-time bass makes it’s appearance known, as if it’s was there the entire time and was watching everything unfold before making it’s mark. The second single release is the more known of, coupled between “Elevate This Sound” and “Hurting.” I shall speak about “Hurting” first, despite it being the B side. It begins with synths that instill both positive and negative sounds. A mournful pleading voice sings to an unknown individual about his relationship with said certain other, solemnly stating “I’m left with nothing but regret/I curse the day we first met.” Meaningful lyrics that bring such emotion in electronic music is a rare thing to encounter. Then it’s a complete flip around with a plunging bass and drums that are crisp and heavy. No messing about in this track, this is a deep, dark track filled with pain that is quite simply brilliantly created by the genius of Calyx & TeeBee. However, it is “Elevate this Sound” that is the one that left me astonished. The voice is the perfect balance between rough, dark and soulful. The drums are intertwined so perfectly keeping a high pace, but not to become irritating. The warmful bass is so behind all of it, progressing along and snaking it’s way throughout the song, with sounds that other wise I’d have been certain only dogs can hear.
Calyx & TeeBee have certainly set a mantra of “looking ahead” in their music, seemingly years ahead of any other producer attempting to do the same. Every track is just such a pleasure to listen to and immerse oneself in, that one hopes that the upcoming album release on Ram Records will be just as absorbing.