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Distance - Repercussions

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Artist: Distance

Album: Repercussions

Label: Planet Mu

Review date: Jan. 22, 2009

In indie-friendly dance music, fuzzed-up basslines have been the call to arms. It’s the defining feature of electronic/rock crossover, allowing live-band tracks to play nicely with programmed beats. It’s cheesy for sure, as overstuffed and delightfully gross as a platter of nachos. And like any satisfying cliché, it gets tiresome quickly. Like a second platter of nachos.

Distance is a DJ who’s been figuring out more inspired intersections between programmed beats and burning amps. Like his fellow dubstep DJs, his music isn’t a call to party at all, more a brutish force similar to loud rock, even while it stays true to empty space and gradual rhythms of dub. Rather than pouring distortion on a low-end track to put the bass in your face, he maintains the subdued current of Jamaican dub and mines metal in other ways. On his "Metalstep Mix" with Vex’d, he demonstrates that the vacuum tube drone of Sunn O))) can conjure ghosts as effectively as the synthesizer washes designed by Burial. Repercussions does that mix one better, dropping the direct sampling altogether and letting his grindcore collection get subliminal.

Which is how he gets to drop his beats and headbang, too. Sonically, the two forms occupy opposite niches: metal blasts the midrange, dubstep obsesses over deep throb and chirps. If you combined the two literally, one would drown out the other, making a soupy brown noise. Distance rethinks the recipe. The sounds assuming the guitar frequencies on Repercussions are plainly electronic. When distortion is added, it’s obviously digital – it sounds pixilated. The track "Out of Mind" becomes menacing because of its Arabaic scale, the sort that guitar-tappers have used the past 40 years. He renders it with thumb-piano plink, with steel drums as metal as it gets. On "Koncrete," the lead ingredient is crunchier, but even more synthetic. It halts and grinds in a rhythm that is straight out of thrash metal, but fabricated to allow snippets of foggy atmosphere of to peek though.

The final track, "Skeleton Grin," employs sawtooth and smoky textures with even subtler rhythmic crossover. The primary beat is a hip hop crawl. When the crunch weighs in, it wobbles first like turntable scratching, then a stoner sludge riff. And with that, Repercussions staggers off down its dark alley, dreaded in every sense of the word.

By Ben Donnelly

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Find out more about Planet Mu

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