Title: Hidden Structures EP
Artist: Roots Echo
Genre: Bass | Dubstep | Drum’n Bass
Release Date: July 14, 2013
Artist: Country Netherlands
Catalog Number: VKRSNL044
License: CC BY-NC-ND
[Note: The original VKRS website is no longer available. I’ve linked to a copy available via the Internet Archive.]
I have to say, when I put this release in the player, I was immediately entertained by it. The opening track Neural Link (LinkStep) starts off the release with a minimal rhythm track and strong spoken words: “Neural link established / sensory links established / reality configured / you are good to go / or so you think”. It’s just the kind of thing that immediately grabs both my attention and imagination. And, paired with a catchy minimal rhythm track that evokes just the right level of foreboding, and I start to think the this could be a work that really reaches into the part of my consciousness that responds to Science Fiction.
And, I like what I am listening to: it’s a complete counter-reaction to the over bloated, highly annoying dub step and trap styles of music that have become pervasive. By returning to the “roots” of dub and laying it bare on the table (hiding the underlying structure), Roots Echo seems to be challenging the listener to take on a different relationship with the core styles of much popular music these days.
But that only works to a point. The fact is, I grew tired of this release after a few listens. Basically, it was an interesting exercise to go through and it allows the listener to understand what they are listening to in other forms of music. But, as a release that stands well on its own, it still shows the same fad-laden style that is common among most popular music.
This is one of the things that I talked about in my Spiedkiks review: abstraction / minimalism can be a double-edged sword. Done one way, and it can reveal interesting relationships between parts that would get lost in the mix of a track. But, the other side is where this release ends up: the relationship between the minimal parts isn’t all that interesting, or necessarily cohesive enough to keep the listeners interest for long.
To make this worse, the vocals on Look away are not good. The rest of the track is very interesting, with a nicely looped bass and organ lines, and a simple snare drum snap. And mixing in echo elements and a simple electronic noise line, I almost felt like it was a reinvention of the 80’s Ska style. But the vocals are just not well done, and actually make it difficult to listen to the track.
So, I would say, it’s worth listening to this release a couple of times to hear a very different take on what dubstep and popular music have become these days. However, beyond a few listens, I don’t believe this release will hold up over time.