Since Drum & Bass began, the genre seems to have adopted a peculiar exercise in self-reflexivity. References litter throughout to the ‘golden era’; rehashing old trademarks for that ‘classic’ sound. The desire to source hallmarks of the genre seems to have replaced the desire to create something new. Thus, it can sometimes feel as though producers are playing a game of spot-the-reference, making D&B something of a self-enclosed system. The kind that Punk could only have dreamed of. This notion has been formalised by Simon Reynolds as the ‘Hardcore Continuum’; the idea that innovation in dance music stems from the deviation of a stylistic norm: hardcore. This is no bad thing. Speaking with Trouw Amsterdam, Terre Thaemlitz aka DJ Sprinkles denounced this motivation for original creation:
“If I concede that my own subjective tastes – even seemingly perverse or deviant ones – emerge from my exposure to culture, then originality is no longer a possibility. Originality is only a representational fiction…”
Just the sheer number of D&B classics that there are to reference has given it mythical status. Satirical music publication Wunderground recently posted an article with the heading; “DJ playing 91-93 classic jungle set since November admits he may run out classics “soon”…” But some producers deviate from the stylistic norm so drastically as to warrant a unique space of their own. One such innovator is Dyl, who for his latest EP, Concept, has incorporated industrial influences into the sound.
There are points on Concept where sounds come through clear and distinct. Flourishes appear and recess into nothingness before your eyes. ’Concept 1’, for example, opens the EP with a distant croon that sounds like the whimper of a dying elephant. ’Rational’, by contrast, is an experiment in horizontal abstraction that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Yaporigami record. On ‘x05510,’ a disconnected racket spills across the stereo field. With so much sonic material available, it can sometimes feel like wading through thick molasses. But Dyl commands the textures like a magician builds tension. He holds suspense until a slight of hand reveals something remarkable.
What makes this EP most striking is that every arbitrary flicker of noise or rumble of bass has every nuance of detail attended to. From the hyperfiltered frequencies to the fleeting glitches that twitch like an electric shock. No avenue unexplored, no leaf unturned. The result is an EP with more labour put into it than most put into an entire album. The historical lineage is not forgotten, but the progression still persists.