Review Summary: Breathing new life into a genre in much need of support, More Than Alot also proved to be one of the year's finest
As it stands now drum & bass is experiencing a much needed and equally deserving second wind, now luckily able to co exist alongside its stretched tempo and influential sister, dubstep. But a quick glance back to the year 2008 showed a slightly different story. Drum & bass had, for the most part, been in a sad state of affairs for the better part of a year; Pendulum (the only d&b group you could justify labelling as superstars and get away with it) had managed to destroy their credibility with their sophomore effort In Silico
, which while still selling by the crate load had practically defined the term “second album slump”. That poisonous fusion of two step, grime and d&b – dubstep - was on the up and up, freshly accepted as everyone's new drug of choice. Borrowing heavily from everything around it, dubstep represented a darker and grittier soundscape, escapism for people in search of that endless bass fix, tired of d&b's more friendly waters. High Contrast's Tough Guys Don't Dance
had ushered in a softer, more lush and liquid take on the genre, that while rich in ideas and solid in its execution still did little to fill the void; it had seemed that dark and sinister might have left for good, slowed itself down and started again in dubstep. While the idea of a gaping hole might be considered as nothing more than a trite metaphor it existed none the less, just as Chase & Status existed as the plug that managed to keep everything in check.
Now to call C&S's debut offering More Than Alot
(no, that's not a typo) a simple drum and bass album would be a tad impertinent. While incorporating many aspects of d&b, dubstep and hip hop, the album seems to exist in its own little space, melding its influences into a unique concoction of hard hitting ear candy, while never managing to dilute or weaken the effects of its individual proponents. Its an album far more adventurous in its scope and vision to be narrowed or pigeon holed to a singular sound; just when you think the boys (Saul Milton and Will Kennard) have settled down and accepted a particular style, just when you think you might have nailed them down they switch it up, moving through inspired permutations of tried and true success stories with ease and an agile grace. The album begins on a gentle note with 'Can't Get Enough', a calm as a coma opener that while doing an admirable job of setting the album up for more grandiose numbers could easily work just as well as the closer, its style more suited for a comedown than as a prelude to the drop.
Things are decidedly kicked up a few decibels with 'Music Club' and ‘Against All Odds' however; 'Music Club' provides a tongue and cheek satirical look into how to make a “massive club banger”, before proceeding to tease out a very Pink Panther-esque inspired vibe; it comes at you with a sickening pace, almost creating a sense that it seems to be in hot pursuit of something. The latter brings in local grime man Kano who tears it up over a sampled 'Apache' beat, courtesy of The Incredible Bongo Band. And while it’s a sample that's been done to death numerous times over, in the hands of C&S it feels fresh and invigorated, lively and comfortable in its hip hop dirtiness. Strangely though, the track that has garnered the lads the most attention, and in the process become almost their own little anthem, is 'Eastern Jam'. Fusing a large amount of Bollywood with a staggering bassline and the biggest dubstep wobble this side of Bombay, the track was thrust into the limelight by the likes of Zane Lowe and Annie Mac, and as such has garnered itself an immortal like status for everyone that throws their hands up to the stylings of the Eastern tip.
Further in the mix the oddity that is 'Running' rears its head, and quite literally throws itself at you and begs for attention. Beginning humbly with an almost Kraftwerk like inspired 80's synth pop style, it quickly throws itself into dubstep territory, steamrolling through a schizophrenic bass drop and a hard hitting percussion set; to say that you will probably not encounter a more odd, yet suitably pleasing contrast of styles anytime soon would be something of an understatement. 'Is It Worth It' closes the album, and with its kick drum stomp, it sees the album out on a perfect high; the momentum continually increasing, its drum & bass roller like quality coming on stronger than a hurricane.
Comparisons to Pendulum, Hold Your Colour
in particular, will undoubtedly be made and for obvious reasons. Just as their debut breathed new life and threw new elements into the equation, so too does More Than A lot
; be it the quintessential bass heavy rhythms of dubstep, the gritty nature of hip hop, or its appealing liquid breaks, Chase and Status were able to pick drum and bass back up on its feet and set it marching off to a good beat once more.