Review Summary: Despite a few short misgivings Phace and Misanthrop seal the deal for Neosignal
It was no real surprise that every man and his dog who had more than just a passing interest in drum & bass were expecting big things from this album. From the club favorite dj's all the way down to the kids with runny noses and hoods pulled tight over their heads kicking their heels outside of their local record stores, everyone had their piece to say regarding this long awaited album. And what more could you expect from these two German tech heavyweights; one a duo risen to the top tier of neurofunk stardom, and the other a ten year vet, a cosmic kid obsessed with darkwave. It really was a match made in clubbers heaven. And how tantalizing were their first combined steps; tracks like 'Mammoth' and their split of 'Fortune' and 'Hyzer' were attention grabbers like no other. They were bangers that moved drum & bass into the outer realms of the universe, sci fi tinged escapades into the deep and the dark. Neurofunk was a movement that was just gaining the mainstream recognition it deserved and Phace were primed to carry it across the finish line; their diabolical debut Psycho
made sure of that. And while Misanthrop had yet to release a full length, cuts like 'Viperfish' and 'Black Rain' were staunch reminders of the damage this guy could do. We expected big things from these cats, and for the most part they delivered the goods.
Now neurofunk, for those unfamiliar with the term, is a sub-genre of drum & bass which gained prominence in the late 90's, evolving from another sub-genre – techstep. Neurofunk brings a much more darker and funkier approach to the world of drum & bass, it introduced rhythmic stabbing points over the continual bass (which borrows heavily from break beat) and moved the percussion to the background, allowing for highly atmospheric and darkly nuanced ambiance to shine through. It shares many traits with techstep, but drops the sci-fi pretense of the former and goes for a much more fluid and dynamic approach. It also systematically dropped the heavy use of synthesizers prevalent in techstep and as a result has ended up as a much more natural and grittier sound, a stark contrast to tech's more “clinical” sound. But this is where From Deep Space
differs from the norm; the 3 lads have almost fallen into a time warp with this full length, because save for a few tracks scattered intermittently across the board, this is techstep through and through.
“The seed is planted from deep space
Perhaps the first thing that strikes me about this album is the level of detail gone into it at the production level. While the album is meant to evoke a very cold and dark atmosphere (which it does in spades) the production is clean and crisp, sleek and exploited to its fullest potential, just like all German precision tends to be. Both 'Shadow' and 'Going Down Slow' are prime example's of this, with both incorporating decadent layers of subsonic bass and sparkling crystal clear production. 'Shadow' goes for the throat with its dubstep leanings, slowing down the pace of the album for just a moment with its slabs of bass swirling across the tempo. Its almost wall of sound bass, just cut up and spun out of control, pummeling unseen objects and bouncing back, like a maelstrom caught in a confined space. 'Going Down Slow' is more of the same, but sped up to almost dizzying proportions. Evoking a great deal of Misanthrop's roots, the track is steeped in groove and mystery, though a few well placed piano licks stop the track from fully exploding. At Phace's end things are looking decidedly different for them; for the most part the catastrophic nature of their previous lp Psycho
has disappeared, with that more “clinical” nature I mentioned earlier taking its place. Its almost no surprise that almost all of their tracks evoke a similar nature to their breakthrough track 'Cold Champagne' (featured on Noisia's Fabric mix); as leftfield for the group as that track was it showed a finely tuned ear for melody, something lacking from the brutal nature of their full length, but allowed to flourish here They even let loose another surprise here with track 'Generation For Sale', a raunchy and full flavored electro track covered in a fine layer of dirt and funk.
For the most part, the boys have delivered the sonic goods. Aside from a few reprieves the tracks do tend to mingle rather closely to one another through, with only a sharp ear being able to distinguish the difference between the more hard hitting cuts. Within the tight confines of the genre its another stunner from these lads however, and a huge hit for Neosignal, but people with an unfamiliar ear for this type of music might initially struggle to accept its cold and reluctant qualities, and its propensity for what could be considered repetitiveness. Its designed for the clubs, in that it has a beat and it sticks to it, with progression happening at a much slower pace. And while it doesn't hold up quite as well as some of the other releases put forth this year by others in the genre, its a gifted little album that shows just how far the rabbit hole can go.
““If you’re anywhere interested in drum & bass and the exploration of sonic logic and depth you cannot miss this album. Nobody goes where Phace and Misathrop go