Collaborations between artists are always healthy for a music scene. The latest release in MethLab’s BNKR series, III EP, is testament to this. Combining productions by up and coming talent from across the globe, this EP captures the essence of the minimal, techy DnB sound that has attracted much innovation in recent years. Once again, MethLab affirms that they are a label which can put out top-notch releases on a regular basis.
Three artists are featured on III EP; Ewol, Grey Code, and Skylark. Ewol is an Australian producer, building on a surprisingly rich DnB heritage and continuing to grow the scene down under. With releases on Flexout, Lifestyle, and Dispatch, he is certainly establishing a name for himself in minimal DnB Circles. Grey Code, a Bristol based producer, and relative newcomer, had his debut release on Dispatch in 2017. Since then, he has continued to release on Dispatch, and remixed for another up and coming artist, Missing. French producer Skylark rounds off the trio featured on this release. Also having Dispatch releases under their belt, Skylark has previous collaborated with Ewol in their track Abandon (available for free download)!
The EP itself contains six tracks. The opener, Daydreaming (Skylark), begins with a series of gentle chords, atmospheric percussion, and reversed bass effects. The drop itself retains this lucid feel, with an airy kick at the start of each bar, appearing sporadically in other places behind minimal drums. A rounded bass playing underneath the chord progression holds the track together as it progresses with the introduction of tuned percussion at different stages. This arrangement repeats for the second drop until the track ends abruptly; the only suitable way to finish a track that could happily play and repeat indefinitely.
Featuring Ray Uptown, Atom Rays (Grey Code) starts off with menacing horns, synth plucks, and metallic soundscapes. High-end heavy pads and a faint arpeggio prepare us for an experimental drop. Using claps instead of a snare, a mangled 808 bass, and wooden sounding percussion every 16th note, Grey Code shows that it pays to be different! A return of the pads and a subtle ‘foghorn’ soundscape underneath rounds of this section. A short break follows, giving us chance to recover before the intensity of the main body returns with variation in the primary percussion.
Myth (Ewol) follows the established convention of an atmospheric introduction before a refined yet powerful drop. Airy pads and sparse drums achieve this well, as the energy level of the track is built with the addition of a 16th hat pattern and a kick on the first beat of every other bar. The drop itself is minimal perfection. A 2-note bassline that is resonant and sub-heavy is paired withan off-kilter kick; a staple of Ewol’s releases. Different atmospheres and a darker mid-section give wat to a quivering bass that has adopted a drone-like timbre. This is a track which is unrelenting yet eminently dance-able. A perfect showcase of the more intense side of minimal.
Grey Code’s second track, Simple Things, captures our attention from the start with a resonant stutter and rich retro pads on the intro. An analogue synth bassline intertwined with a light arpeggio produces a well-balanced sound that complements the drop well. The sudden introduction of a kick and snare pattern gives the illusion of a drop, whilst the drums continue to build. A sub-bass signals the true drop two phrases later, as the minimal bass follows same chord progression as the introduction, balancing some ethereal vocal samples that give definition to the high end of the track. The second drop is layered with old school breaks and strings – a simple thing, but very effective.
Surpress (Ewol) is a track that rolls nicely throughout its duration. Starting with a kick-snare pattern imitated on hats, before being layered with an actual filtered kick and snare, a brief pause and delayed drums transitions into a sinister analogue bass riff. This continues into the drop amid a blend of washed-out delayed vocal sounds and minimal, skippy drum patterns. A distorted hat pushes the track forwards as the riff is layered in a lead the octave above, a trick which is sure to produce results live.
The final track, Diffusion, a collaboration between Skylark and Ewol, again begins with gentle pads and heavily reverbed abstract percussion. The familiar sound of a snare being filtered in alongside the envelope on the pads changing to evolve them into a stab is a clear moment of musical inspiration. The new stab infrequently occurs in the drop, which is now dominated by a deep bass and a variety of well-arranged sound effects. The pad is reintroduced alongside some high-end saturation, a common feature of Ewol’s production. The track ends suddenly with the reverb tail of the pads, begging for a new track to be mixed in to continue the weighty vibe of this production.
Overall, III EP is a release which combines the best elements of each producer’s style. This certainly proves that there is a solid foundation for the next generation for DnB producers, and to say that we are excited to see how they will continue to shape the scene is and understatement.
The EP is out now, so take a listen below or click here to grab yourself a copy straight from bandcamp.