With non-darkside drum & bass compilations sounding increasingly anemic and uninspiring, it was about time that a label came along and put a different spin on the musical end of d&b - and that's exactly what Offshore have done with this stunning collection of rhythmically-intricate, melodically-abstract tracks that test the boundaries of drum and bass possibility. Featuring some gloriously intense contributions from the likes of Seba, Deep Blue, Justice and the ever-wonderful Paradox - whose 'I Get a Kickbak' is a drumkit-down-stairs delight - 'Troubled Waters' is as tough as it is jazzy, and as effective as it is experimental. Class.
American based DJ Clever was first bitten by the jungle bug when he visited London for a semester of his college course. After rising through the ranks of his hometown Connecticut he moved to NYC where he scored a job in the Big Apple's most famous record shop, Breakbeat Science, and soon became their record buyer. 'Troubled Waters' is a journey through the leftfield side of D&B that his co-owned label (OSR) is renowned for. The track listing features artists like Paradox ('I Get a Kickback'), Fracture and Neptune ('Normality Complex') and Pieter K ('Rapport') to name a few. The mixing is seamless, and the breaks are constantly morphing keeping things interesting. There's a thick slice of future soul running throughout and if you're a big fan of your breaks you should definitely check this one.
Rumors of drum 'n bass' passing have been greatly exaggerated. For proof, you need look only to DJ Clever's mix CD Troubled Waters, a compilation of 12"-only releases from the UK's Offshore Recordings imprint. Beginning with the unconventional cover art - bright, balloony starfish and sharks cavorting amongst sloe-eyed whales - it's apparent that Offshore has fled drum 'n bass' aesthetic cul-de-sac of grim, go-nowhere dystopianism. The beats within are light and airy; the keys as springy as classic Omni Trio; and the whole thing is informed by expert sound design that favors goosepimply texture and gossamer timbre. There are no "Amen," retreads here; the breaks sound as fresh as the first time you heard time-stretching. Tracks from the likes of Justice, Paradox, Pieter K, and Seba are hyperkinetic, wholeheartedly ecstatic, and breezy as a summer drive behind the wheel of a convertible. (PS)
Bit of a turn-up for the books this one--the best drum'n'bass mix-CD I've heard in... probably six and a half years. Since it all went crap, in other words. This is like the last six years never happened--the one-bar loop, the grrrr-grrrr B-line, the Optical-damaged pounding aerobic tedium of all it. An alternate history taking off from Source Direct and the later, still-good Reinforced and those precious few Metalheadz moments, spliced with some Bukem-ite aqua-funk-but-with-balls. Not mash-up, not ragga, but (Soundmurderer & Remarc hindsight-adjustment withal) that was never all that jungle had to offer, was it? I suppose this is more properly described as drum & bass. The breaks still break, the bass actually moves (rhythmically and melodically) rather than just riffing Bad Company-style--but itÍs not anthemy; indeed the fractured flow aesthetic makes it quite a tracky experience. Stand-out subsequence for me is probably Intex Systems/"Drum Track 1"[ruff!!!]>>Sileni/"Twitchy Droid Leg"[TITLE!!! And an accurate description!]>>Paradox/"I Get A Kickback" [full-kit funkspasm], but really it's all good; DJ Clever takes you on the proverbial "journey," right through to a lovely idyll-coda with Alaska's "Rare Earth". Nice to see some old Moving Shadow bods in the mix--Justice, and Sean O'Keeffe of 2BadMice/Kaotic Chemistry/Deep Blue fame, which last moniker he's still trading under here. The tunes are all on Offshore BTW. Shimmering rainforesty beat-foliage and texturhythmic mayhem, Troubled Waters'll Kodwofy your bodymind. It reminds me of the last time I really brocked out to D&B in BOTH full polyriddim delirium AND absolute present tense (as opposed to time-travel-tinged experiences a la Ripley, Soundmurderer, etc), and that would have been this set by Dego MacFarlane in 1998, an almost-empty basement at this club in Manhattan called Speeeed. The music danced me. I get that feeling from this CD and it makes me hungry to hear Clever (a chap called Brett who works at Breakbeat Science and runs Offshore) drop it live through an engulfing system. Plus the cover is a cute seascape picture. Out in mid-July.
(Simon Reynolds - Blissblog)
Anyone who mistakenly thinks all drum & bass sounds the same should dive straight into Troubled Waters. This mix boasts 15 of the Offshore label's refreshing leftfield leanings, which give equal treatment to both the breaks and the bass. Label head DJ Clever passionately mixes the drumfunk rhythms with no disarray and there is enough variety to keep your ears at attention. Particularly gripping are the dreamlike vocals of Seba's "Make My Way Home" and the off-kilter noises in Sileni's "Twitchy Droid Leg." Definitely a contender for one of the best d&b mix CD's of this year.
(Ryan Romana - XLR8R)
A mash-up of 15 tracks from Offshore Recordings by NYC's DJ Clever. Leftfieldish drum & bass demonstrating a broad range of styles, from flam- heavy kick drum deluges to the occasional summertime string-wash cloudburst.
The highlights: Pieter K with "Rapport," a track that threatens to send chills down one's spine. Deep Blue, Seba, Sileni, too many to mention, but there's really no filler here.
Clever shifts gears effortlessly, slipping from the likes of Sileni's high-rpm "Twitchy Droid Leg" [the perfect soundtrack for an anime car chase through 2050 Tokyo] to Paradox's deep, soulful [dare I say housey?] strings on "I Get a Kickback."
The last genre where any nondiehard looks for decent records these days is drum and bass, which sank under its own scowl half a decade ago. Sure, there's been the odd exception here and there, but that's what they've remained-exceptions, possibly enough of them to make a full CD feasible every year or so, though not even the most die-hard junglists of my acquaintance have tried convincing me of that. I put this 15-cut mix on at random-I hadn't looked at it too closely, and the cover, a drawing of a dolphin in the water that looks like it belongs in a kids' book, made me think it was a tech-house disc from the Areal label-and after the first rolling break, figured I'd take it off after three songs. On it stayed, and after a month and a half, I think I've figured out why: The tracks here, by a number of D&B lifers (most notably Deep Blue, who made 1994's classic "Helicopter Tune"), work the middle ground between the airy, head-in-the-clouds (or underwater, as the case may be) "aquatic" sound codified by L.T.J. Bukem and the harder snarl of early techstep from labels like No U-Turn. In short, it's as much an old-school flashback in its way as last year's SoundMurderer mix, Wired for Sound, only instead of sounding like 1994 all over again, Troubled Water moves the date ahead to roughly 1997. Even the harder, more minimal stuff sounds three-dimensional: Paradox's "I Get a Kickback" works its tinny snare-and-ride-cymbal groove into an elastic torsion that sounds like it's flaking off gold dust. The most effortlessly enjoyable jungle-today disc I've heard since DJ DB's 1999 Shades of Technology.
(Michelangelo Matos - Seattle Weekly)
The problem with most drum'n'bass DJ mixes or artist albums is that they tend to be pretty samey, and they all tend to be samey in the same way: lots of minor-key keyboard washes shimmering above evil-sounding descending basslines and robotic warp-speed breakbeats. It's a great sound, but not necessarily one that holds up well without significant variation for an hour at a time. On this compilation of singles culled from the Offshore label catalog, DJ Clever accomplishes what few others have managed before him: instead of working from a musical palette consisting entirely of shades of metallic grey, he draws on a bright, tuneful array of musical styles and a surprisingly varied range of textures to create one of the sunniest, most consistently enjoyable drum'n'bass mixes of the year. Beginning with Fracture & Neptune's minimalist "Normality Complex," which creates enough musical interest through beat arrangements alone to make you forget how little else is going on, and ending with Alaska's glitteringly lovely "Rare Earth," which somehow manages to communicate a relaxing meditative beauty despite its hyperkinetic funky drums, 'Troubled Waters' provides a fascinating overview of one of America's finest underground dance labels. Highly recommended.
(All Music Guide)
It's a rare day that a drum'n'bass disc sees the light of day in this column - while the genre itself was once one of the most vital scenes within all of electronic music's splintered sub-cultures, it soon thereafter sank under the weight of its own aloof posturing and solidified into an endless churn of lockstep rhythms that seemed to contribute nothing to the form. And just when you'd given up hope, Clever comes along and drops this cheekily packaged disc of fresh rhythms to make it all seem vital and new again. The tech-step drudgery of most d'n'b mixes is replaced by a renewed emphasis on unpredictable time signatures and spastic beat programming. Tracks like Sileni's "Twitchy Droid Leg" and Intex Systems' "Drum Track 1" are prime examples as they sound nothing like most d'n'b you're likely to have encountered lately. Sometimes the atmospherics get a bit light, verging on LTJ Bukem's tepid take on the genre - but all in all, this is a killer jungle mix.
(Brock Phillips - Mean Street)
Not your typical dancefloor drum & bass mix here.ĉIntrospective and choppy as fuck, this is jungle for the not-so-dancing choppy break lovers out there; nerd and bass, if you will.ĉD&B for those with a closet full of dusty magic cards, but in the best possible sense.
(Weekly Dig - Boston)