Like the stunning LV/Message To Bears/Zaki Ibrahim collaboration, the 2nd Drop released DjRUM‘s “Mountains” EP was spread across two 12″s while the narrative arc of the four tracks worked best when played consecutively. “Undercoat” kicks off with some atmospheric sound effects, before leading to a rattling bassline under a repeated chopped-up vocal line pleading “I’m not the one you need…” Then at the breakdown a series of orchestral flourishes introduces what sets DjRUM apart from most of the other produces out there. His use of strings is truly exciting, something that adds a more studied effect to the beats and bass that are already impeccably assembled. The moody atmospherics return with for the end of the track, as it fizzles out with gentle dub-style percussion on top of the main synth furniture, and a plaintive voice singing “tell me what you want from me” – an intriguing end to a marvelous track.
Title track “Mountains” kicks off like the pastoral techno cousin of an Objekt track, with a similar pulse to that artist’s “CLK Recovery”, with a pulsating techno beat accompanying those moody atmospherics and heart-rending strings. It’s the most beautiful and emotional track that one could call techno that has been out this year, and in a year that’s been as strong as this one with stellar releases dropping by the fortnight, that’s high praise indeed. “Mountains Pts 2&3” picks up where its predecessor left off, with the same cello chords, but it starts out like UK orchestral hip-hop circa 2002. That said, there’s something about these dancing demisemiquavers on the piano that hint at something a little bit more frenetic. Sure enough, just more than a minute in the tempo flips and we’re in rollicking techno territory again, while further in a girl sings of “little white flowers” – another element of incongruity that adds to the intrigue of this collection. “Part 3” is the beatless outro, which further signifies that this track is one that extends beyond the dancefloor and DJ charts into the realm of headphone listening and quiet introspection.
The release closes with “Turiya”, the most club-friendly track. After a lush and decorative into, it kicks into a steady 134. While it may lack the wild variety of the other tracks on the release, it is at the same time fulfilling in its attempt to stay on the floor. As we reach the end of the track, once again we witness see DjRUM’s majestic use of strings, adding a layer of poignancy to the proceedings, while the track ends with some harp glissando and the crashing of cymbals. Not your standard dubstep track at all then.
From his remix on the aforementioned LV release to this collection, it’s clear that DjRUM has a singular vision of how this brand of dance music should sound in 2011, and I can only hope that we get more from him in the future. If you want a further glimpse inside the man’s psyche, he’s just done an all-vinyl mix for i-D magazine, as well as a podcast and interview for the famed Sonic Router blog. And on the subject of 2nd Drop, they just dropped a mysterious tweet about a new signing, which can only mean another great release from them in the not-too distant future. Bated breath…
DjRUM – Mountains is out now. Click here to buy it from Boomkat.