Review Summary: Enjoyable but nothing else; Spor's House project will reap the rewards but at what cost?
Anyone who knows me on this site knows that I have a bit of a hankering for drum & bass and all of its expansive roster of performers. One of the genre's current rising stars (well, technically he's already risen high enough even though he's really only just gotten started) is a man named Jon Gooch, known professionally to the world as Spor. Now he's been around for a few years now, his breakthrough track 'Judderman' dropping way back in the heyday of 2004. Its hardcore and frantic approach made it an instantly identifiable number and turned it into something of a classic in the process. And Jon has never really looked back, he's consistently released top quality material ever since, through his own solo efforts or his numerous collaborations with the likes of Noisia and Audio. He even broke through into the mainstream with his remix of The Qemists' 'Stompbox', transforming the stale and inconsequential number into something more explosive and captivating. It was also around this time that Spor started to scratch an itch. Teaming up with Noisia's recently formed Division imprint, the two released probably one of the more surprising ep's of 2008, the split Mordez Moi / B.R.U.L.
– two tracks that revealed something incredibly interesting, the 2 drum & bass icons swapping the pummel and the violence of d&b for the more pristine and spit shined sound of house music. And before the dust even had time to settle he was at it again, now signed to Deadmau5's mau5trap recordings and dropping the double A side The Spell / Raw Chicken
. It was this release that got people very, very excited about the possibilities of Spor as a house producer. Despite operating under the name of Feed Me and masquerading as a tiny (and constantly hungry) little alien, Jon's obvious touch was still felt throughout.
Now with enough people becoming aware of Feed Me the comparisons are starting to come in thick and fast, and the main one seems to be Jon's musical ties to everyone's favorite and cuddly post hardcore bopper, Skrillex. It's an obvious one however, as both artists have emerged from different fields and bought with them their past (and in Spor's case, current) influences and fused them into the bouncy and funk fueled tendencies of house music. Spor's drum & bass roots have translated amazingly well over to this new style, albeit in a much more abrasive way than most listeners would be accustomed to hearing. His beats are large and expansive, his lines jagged and distorted, chopped up and run through a battle ground of distortion and synths. In fact, synths play a huge part in the DNA of Feed Me, his debut track 'Mordez Moi' found itself filled to the brim with runs across what almost sounds like a retro Casio keyboard, pulled out of the color drenched 80's and dropped straight into prime time.
That retro key tapping returns in full force for this ep (a rumored taster for a soon to be released full length) but it's a little too evident and forceful this time around, it's a trick that's used just a little too much, let loose rather than held in check for opportunities to relive his beginnings. What isn't here though is everything that made his double A side so riveting; there we had something refreshing and exciting, the ferocity of drum & bass barely contained in the steady rapture of a house beat. But here, well, all of that character, all of that energy and spark, is mysteriously gone. And what we're left with is nothing that we sadly haven't already heard before, and at some points have already heard being pulled off by more credible sources. This is really nothing more than the combined efforts of a progressive mau5, a bass heavy Gartner and a loud and slightly abrasive Skrillex, mistakenly thrown together in a package that doesn't equal the sum of its parts. That's not to say that this isn't good per se, but the transition between what was and what is, well it's really just a shame to see so much talent and vibrant originality go to waste.
Yes, 'Silicone Lube' is a club starter like no other, and Kill The Noise's inclusion on wobble powerhouse 'Muscle Rollers' produces somewhat sizable yet agonizingly obvious results, but they're just not enough to save the ep from descending into fields of mediocrity. Every good idea finds itself surrounded by bad, or half realized, ideas; 'Blood Red' marks an interesting descent into the now well traveled road of dubstep (yeah, here we go again), but it's preceded by another take on the genre, this time in the form of 'Cloudburn', which sadly calls to mind the rampant unoriginality of Magnetic Man at their most banal and insipid. In fact the only track that manages to carry any weight is 'Green Bottle', simply because it falls back on the more aggressive nature of Feed Me's beginnings. The beats are thunder-like and the distorted guitar lead is crunchy and filled with bite, the track's only true drawback is the wait suffered at the hands of the listener before it finally makes its appearance.
It's good, but it's not great. It'll serve its purpose, but it won't win him many new fans. It seems that for every pro that I can think of for this ep a con follows hot on its heels. Just because we've heard all this before doesn't mean we can't hear it again though, but we're losing points for originality here. And it's not even a huge problem to see his now 2 years involved with Deadmau5's record imprint warp his style to something more user friendly; it's not even a problem to find him sound like nothing more than the love child of an affair between Wolfgang Gartner's “Symphony” and Sonny Moore's “Scary Monster” quirkiness, but it becomes a problem where you see where he's come from. To see how safe and simple Feed Me's template has become, to see how the fury has now been whittled down to by the numbers “wobbly” house, well it's just a little sad. It's obviously enjoyable, but on a purely superficial level. Be grateful that Spor's neurofunk output hasn't suffered as a result.