• Vex'd - Degenerate

    Reviewed by Joe Muggs (littledetroit.net)

    <b> Vex'd </b> - Degenerate

    Artist - Vex'd
    Label - Planet Mu
    Released - out now Degenerate

    Ah now here is a Planet Mu record full of sunshine and quirky little jokes. No, not really – this is more SERIOUS stuff from Mike P’s label. As has already been discussed on the LD forum, Vex’d are one of the most exciting prospects to have come from Dubstep since the term was invented – and as with any true innovators, they really can’t be confined to that or any other category. These tracks certainly can’t be written off as “Guardian Grimeâ€?, quite simply because they kick too hard. They certainly start from the basic heavily-syncopated half-stepping dancehall inspired rhythmic template of Dubstep, but the sonic range of these tracks shows Vex’d are well au fait with the full spectrum of dark and strange post rave electronic music. DJ Trace style techstep horrorcore atmospherics and ‘Mentasm’ hoovers; early WARP bleeps and sinewave bass; crisp nuskool breaks filters; proper industrial distorto-fests that wouldn’t shame a Neil Landstrumm or Tobias Schmidtt tune (see ‘Thunder’); the ability to play fast and loose (and noisy) with a classic electro rhythm without losing its spirit in the way few but J Saul Kane can (‘Corridor’ could almost be an Octagan Man tune with some of the raggedness smoothed out and a techstep bass added); a Wiley-like sense of space and confidence in letting a bass sound carry a tune (‘Cold’ is a desolate gothic take on Wiley’s drum-less ‘devil mixes’)â€∫ dammit they even show they understand the “dreadâ€? element of dub in the stupendously heavy ‘Crusher Dub’, which wrenches digi-dub back out of the hands of the shit hippies who have soiled its reputation so many times.

    If there’s one complaint about this album it’s that it is almost too confident, too tight: it never feels totally chaotic or like it could take an unexpected left turn, even at its noisiest. That is a tiny quibble though, and it’s a price more than worth paying for these near-perfectly crafted dynamics and shiveringly dark atmospheres. This is an album for big bad soundsystems, but unlike many records so conspicuously ‘ravey’, it has more than enough detail and intelligence to make it a rewarding listening experience in more intimate situations. Be sure – if you don’t own the tracks already – to pick up the ‘special edition’ with an extra disc of tracks from EPs on Subtext and Destructive (including the original mixes of several that appear on the album in ‘VIP mix’ form). Barely a year from their first 12� release, Vex’d have carved out a whole territory of their own, and indeed perhaps created a whole genre of their own – but these tracks will appeal to punters and DJs across many different electronic styles. A great album.

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