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White Noise: Djrum – Mountains EP

Monday, 10 October 2011

Djrum – Mountains EP

Mountains Pt.1

I have to admit that I hadn’t heard about Djrum before seeing this new release, but he’s certainly on my radar now. His potently atmospheric 2step creations vaguely recall Synkro and Indigo in their cinematic aspirations, but this is clearly a producer with his own sound and ideas, and here they are showcased beautifully.

Opener Undercoat unravels slowly and dramatically, taking its time to unfold the layers before a dark, lurching beat is laid down under a repeated, half-heard vocal line that powerfully adds to the atmosphere. The track settles into a dusty groove, a dubby vista punctuated by lost voices and slick beats. In fact, all four of these tracks take the form of dreamy and cinematic 2step landscapes. The dreamy quality is reinforced by perfectly implemented ghostly vocals, desolate echoes and twisted samples; notably 30-second snatch of an old reggae track at the end of the opener followed by breathing noises; conjuring the feeling of awakening from a dream. The cinematic quality can be put down to his synth-eschewing sample approach, creating an aged feel but also the presence of symphonic sounds more at home in neo-classical than dance. What’s most remarkable is that this all forms a coherent sound, with all four tracks mining their own territory with style and heavy-hitting emotive impact.

The three-part title track demonstrates Djrum’s ability to bring sounds and techniques from a wide variety of genres and incorporate them seamlessly into his own dark, filmic sound. Mountains Pt.1 is a pacey and brooding techno number, a steady 4/4 beat is briefly silenced by deeply evocative strings and desolate vocals. Pts 2 & 3 are even better, picking up just where the swooping strings of the first left off. Here the sound is fuller, less sparse, picking up pace over a mutating and sometimes-submerged beat. Weighed down by its own pace, the second half of the track is a painful and emotive ambient epilogue, with only a hint of a beat that is eventually choked out by seesawing string samples and resonant vocal echoes. After the building tension and isolation of these three tracks, final cut and potential dancefloor number Turiya is a beautiful release, where Djrum tailors his subtle and evocative sounds into a gorgeous bassy number.

The whole EP has a beautifully aged quality, and although the ghostly sounds recall Burial, there is a much tighter focus on atmosphere across these tracks. The EP straddles home-listening atmospherics with a dance-centric host of influences (hip hop, techno, bass music, and of course dubstep) to fantastic effect, creating a sound that isn’t groundbreaking but is wonderfully distinctive and exhilarating. I can’t wait to see what he comes out with next, because more in either the ambient-focused direction of the title tracks or the dancier opening and closing numbers would be very exciting indeed.


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