A 4/4 timebase, offbeat pads, filter build-ups and organ-style “I’m a dreeammerrr!” stabs? Say these words to any dance music nut and they’d probably think you’re describing a slightly dodgy ’97 Paul Van Dyk track. So how about I tell you that this is a Drum N Bass track? Don’t believe me? Well, the proof is in the pudding for Nu:Tone’s new 2-tracker on Hospital Records.
A year or two ago, this would have been almost unheard of, but it’s there. It’s frantic, the drums roll and the vocal sample catches your ears to the point where you begin to hate yourself. Shine In boasts a sound that is almost probably maybe definitely influenced by Camo & Krooked’s simplicity, Danny Byrd’s soulful percussion and the massive suddenly-stopped-giving-a-crap party vibe that few artists can pull off but everybody tries to anyway. Couple all of this with vocals provided by MOBO award nominee Natalie Williams and baby, you’ve got a stew going.
Whilst Shine In may definitely be a radio and dance floor favorite, it does seem to lack any sort of lead melody, and it seems to be catching the whole 4/4 DnB thing at what I’d consider to be the tail end. Liquid DnB has seen radical changes in the past few years, and whilst I have every intention of blasting this on the way to work tomorrow and probably tripling the speed limit in the process, I’m trying to hum along to it but I just can’t. How much this matters, is down to opinion – regardless, I’d definitely skank it out to this. With an atmosphere that just screams “it’s time to hit a nightclub” and clean, crisp production, Shine In will definitely be hitting the playlists in no time at all.
On a darker tip comes Bleeper, a strange affair of deep dubstep-style bassline (not the warp warp warp’s but the rattles-your-spine bbbbbuuurrrrr’s, fortunately,) some big-ass fucking drums and a series of arpeggios that boggle the mind. With synths roaring like some deranged 2011 Vangelis with a skin condition, Bleeper is definitely Nu:Tone’s Hyde to his Jekyll, and it isn’t afraid to show it. Hospital Records are well known for their sister label Med School, providing a much more warped view of the world, and this track seems to be a sort of inbetween. It’s liquid and bassy, but it’s…odd. The Human Centipede odd. And that’s definitely not such a bad thing, in this case.
I can’t help but think the contrast between sections is a little too high in places, however – notably in the build, where it seems to be that Magnetic Man have supplied 30 seconds of track for no apparent reason. It sort of takes the dark away – they didn’t stop for a cheeky red bull in A Nightmare on Elm Street, so why should this? I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, just a little – peculiar. Bleeper is a maze of fog, fairground rabbit costumes with sharp, bloody teeth, with somebody face down in a drug-induced coma – this just seems like the short cut.
What Nu:Tone definitely shows with this release is his flexibility. The age of the DnB artist, as compared to bloke who plays tunes and rinses it out and stuff, is upon us – and Dan Gresham, as he’s known to others, is definitely answering the call. What’s great to see is that this really doesn’t feel like an A & B side – both tracks are fantastic in their own right, and it looks like Nu:Tune is doing his part to tear open the mind of the Drum N Bass community. Hopefully, metaphorically – or Hospital Records might have chosen their name a little too literally.
Nu:Tone – Shine In / Bleeper is available to buy from the 14th February from the Hospital Records shop on 12″ Vinyl and Digital Download.