Amit :: Never Ending
Move over Photek and Grooverider - there's a new Drum and Bass don in town. And he's ...brown?! South Asian DJs and producers have made their mark in most fields of electronica but the elusive throne of world class DnB has long since eluded them. Now, along comes the debut LP from a reclusive thirty something, father of six, British Asian from Slough - a borough famous for Charles Dickens and little else. Never Ending has provided the genre with a much needed makeover, in much the same way as Roni Size's New Forms had in 1997.
While there are new-school DnB producers coming out of the woodworks - Pendulum, Cyantific and Chase & Status are just a few of the most exciting - Amit Kamboj's style is unique in that the focus is on the half tempo, which makes it sound like normal DnB slowed down. This gives it a huge home listening sensibility, sounding as good in the confines of one's living room as it would on the floors of the most discerning of London's jungle and DnB clubs. But don't get me wrong, this is nowhere close to chillout music. Rarely has dance music sounded so disturbing and ominous.
Unlike most new releases in the collaboration-friendly field of electronica, Never Ending is largely a one man affair with the occasional vocal sample punctuating the dark, twisted Dub and Tech-step influenced breakbeats. "Erazer," the big break for Amit which found him his creative home on Klute's Commercial Suicide label, is emblematic of his style. Tribal, broken beat patterns give way to chunky, bass-heavy, half-speed beats with liberal doses of sinister, echoing effects. "Village Folk" is a track that should have a home in every South Asian DJ's record crate as it is pure, badass, Eastern DnB pressure, obviously an homage to Amit's roots. The rolling basslines and eerie vocal sample are as likely to give you goose bumps as they are to get the toughest looking b-boy on the dance floor.
"Immortal" has that chill inducing, epic, pounding quality that makes dance music such a favorite among movie soundtracks. The perfect set closer or come-downer after a long night of clubbing, if ever there was one. "Live in India" and "Swastika" will appeal to dubstep heads and those who like their music political while "MK Ultra" and "True War" would no doubt make Trent Reznor envious of their industrial and gothic overtones. The infectious, dubby skank of "Night Shift" is as bright as Never Ending's mood gets. This is not an album for the faint of heart.
Drum and Bass has its roots in hip hop music - early DnB pioneers would speed up the breaks found in the urban lyrics-heavy art form, often looping and chopping the beats, and stripping down the vocals, thereby creating an entirely new, high BPM genre. As trends and influences came and went, the sound splintered into various forms - some of which were Jump-Up, Drill and Bass and most recently Dubstep and Techstep. Amit's stretched, half-speed Drum and Bass technique is just one of the many shapes that DnB has taken. An atmospheric quality and deep basslines make it a sub-genre veering unnervingly close to Intelligent Dance Music (IDM) and that in itself is refreshing. Like every other thing South Asians excel at, the last bastion that was Drum and Bass has successfully and finally been overrun. If there's one Drum and Bass album you will buy this year, let this be it.