Available on: Metalheadz LP
2010: The year drum ’n’ bass broke again? That’s a grossly oversimplified statement, but it’s somewhat true. This year, the hard work of the Autonomic sector, with Instra:mental and dBridge at its core, is finally paying off, leading attention back to a genre that has been critically ignored in recent times, and so it’s hard to imagine a better time for the release of the long-awaited Re:Call To Mind. Let’s go back a little bit.
2007: Commix release Call To Mind on Metalheadz, undoubtedly one of the finest drum ‘n’ bass albums ever, long on melody and groove and short on flat utilitarianism. The Cambridge duo managed to delicately colour their grooves with everything from soul to techno, without breaking off from their roots. It was d’n’b for the dabbler and the deeply devoted alike. Naturally, Commix’s accessible but clever sound attracted fans and devotees as far-flung as their influences, the cross-genre dialogue now coming to a crossroads with Re:Call To Mind, a track-by-track (almost) remix companion to the original.
This is no ordinary remix album. Commix remain aware that this is an album – not a collection of tracks – so there are no repeated tracks, no duplicates, nothing like that. It flows beautifully, perhaps even better than its parent. This is also no ordinary drum ‘n’ bass album. In fact, the duo may have taken a risk by releasing an album that’s overwhelmingly disposed towards other genres and tempos, but it proves a risk worth taking. It’s hard to find a more perfect world lineup anywhere: Burial, Underground Resistance, Instra:mental, Pangaea, Kassem Mosse, Marcel Dettmann, A Made Up Sound, the list goes on. Commix have tapped into the essence of the surprisingly incestuous and deeply fetishist electronic music “underground”, assembling something that sounds like a collective manifesto for the deeper dance sounds of the new decade. In short, 2010’s best drum ‘n’ bass album also contains some of the very best dubstep, techno and house tracks of the year.
Either through curatorial genius or dumb luck, nothing on Re:Call sounds out of place or jarring; even as tempos jump and genres shift, it’s an album that sounds like it was made to be listened to all the way through. Opening with the haunted grooves of Instra:mental’s elegiac rework of ‘Japanese Electronics’ and ending with the spacey electro of Underground Resistance, it’s a journey to say the least. It gradually picks up speed with the metallic militancy of Pangaea’s remix of ‘How You Gonna Feel’ (turning the vocals confused and alien) and A Made Up Sound’s ‘Change’, while dBridge twists the limbs of ‘Belleview’ into unnatural shapes before the album completely blasts off into space.
Burial’s much-ballyhooed and gorgeous zero gravity remix of ‘Be True’ is placed strategically at the centre of the album. Burying (ahem) the clocking garage beat under layers of mournful horns and twisted vocals, it’s nothing new for him, but a new Burial beat is a new Burial beat regardless. Elsewhere, Kassem Mosse constructs one of his characteristic steam-punk machines out of ‘Strictly’ and Sigha transforms ‘Emily’s Smile’ into galloping gossamer techno. Each producer manages to retain the spirit of the originals and channel it into productions that sound wonderfully like their own, and still the album remains magically cohesive.
True enough, Re:Call To Mind is not a perfect album; Two Armadillos’ remix is insincere piano house and Marcel Dettmann’s take on ‘Satellite Type 2’ is nearly too sober for its own good. But it’s pretty damn close, and pretty damn remarkable that Commix managed to make one of the most relevant and wonderful albums of the year a drum ‘n’ bass album, not to mention a remix album. With the amount of talent present on this one disc (I feel like the CD should be able to levitate or something), maybe it shouldn’t be so surprising. But it’s a rare event when star-studded lineups live up to the fullest extent of their potential, and that’s really what Re:Call To Mind is – an event, one not to be missed by any electronic music acolyte, dancers, ravers, and chin-strokers alike.