Review Summary: In which Eleven Tigers continues down the same path that held his debut effort back from being the classic it so longed to be
In trying to adequately describe Eleven Tigers’ (Jokubas Dargis) recent meteoric rise into the blogosphere, and in an attempt to somehow anchor his music to earth, one noted critic recently summed up the earnest young musician’s work as the result of “what happens after Burial”. This somewhat jaded summary brings about a number of issues with it; there’s of course the obvious, which is that it seems no burgeoning musician in the scene can fully escape Bevan’s shadow, and that perhaps Burial’s time in the sun is waning just a fraction more than the general public would be led to believe. And then there’s the critic’s notion that Dargis’ music bears resemblance to the supposed master, which is somewhat of a fallacy in hindsight. Sure, both artists like to convey a deep feeling of regret and claustrophobia in their works but they approach this idea in completely separate ways. Whereas Bevan uses silence and space to his advantage (allowing every clipped note to ring out within its echoed confines) Dargis top loads his music with an overwhelmingly dense collective of liquid bass and deep techno influences. He constantly flutters through various permutations, never fully settling down and locking himself in to a certain twist or turn, instead choosing to fluctuate dramatically and on a moment’s notice.
This eclectic style brings with it a few problems, issues that held back Jokubas’ debut Clouds Are Mountains
from potentially becoming the classic it so longed to be. It’s also the same reason why 111
(the quick-fire follow up) ends up falling into the same boat: there’s just simply too much going on at any one time to allow any sense of comfort or complacency. His jagged dubstep hooks will begin in true addictive fashion only to find the floor giving way beneath them as shards of broken trip hop attempt to piece themselves together in a distressed attempt to survive. His bass is a constant, always throbbing and pulsing away in the distance, surging in an apocalyptic rhythm with his shuffling and polished garage beats. They remain the only true guiding hand throughout the album’s run-time, the only obvious constant to light the way. Even when he attempts to evoke a loose sense of ambiance, that deep rumble always remains just out of reach, constantly banging on the walls in an infinite clatter. When he jumps ship and attempts to drench his dark rave with a viciously acidic techno accompaniment he still never strays too far from the vaguely familiar. Moments like the middle section of ‘Night’ where he merrily swaps his lockstep for a more potent four to the floor beat still sing out like close relatives to his more broken down and stripped machinations.
His use of vocals is also another stylistic point that sets him apart from the majority of today’s current dubstep maestros’; he leaves his loose narrative unmolested, free from the androgynous like tendencies of his contemporaries. He allows them to exist and expand on their own terms, and in a way this empowers not just their voice, but their words even more. Free from overt manipulation they sing out in freedom rather than persecution or containment. They exist over the top of the music, rather than wrapped up in its foundations. This allows them to float all around the slowly crumbling facade of 111
’s extremities and drop in whenever they seem fit, rather than relegated to swirl around the anchoring of the percussion. But for all these exciting and slightly decadent ideas that Eleven Tigers uses to bolster up his mission statement, he fails at the task to implement them in a cavalier fashion. All these different notions and styles don’t rear their heads in a surprising fashion during the course of the album, they’re forced on you right from the get-go, all emerging one after the other like an indestructible wall of bass and broken rhythms. There’s little chance for the listener to begin to rack their head around the constant tumble of the music before another rabbit hole emerges and they’re sent further underground. Whereas Clouds Are Mountains
showed more restraint with its apparent need to assimilate every conceivable nighttime soundtrack curio into its almost black hole-like gravity, 111
is the restless cousin unable to contain its desire to demonstrate its wares. Which is a shame really, because Dargis certainly has the equipment and the determination to be the next (insert current champion here), but his maze is just too difficult to navigate without clear directions. There are just too many back alleys and side streets to get lost in, and none of them point the way forward.