Review Summary: Seven's debut might boast some of his greatest material, the problem instead lies in how to execute his ideas
Perhaps it is an act of sacrifice that allows a listener to look beyond certain flaws when presented with only a handful of tracks to immerse themselves in, to look beyond the lack of anything
simply because of the lack of everything
. For an outsider, the electronic dance world might seem a little spartan, oversaturated by singles and yet bereft of anything more substantial; that whole artists can go their entire careers without actually releasing a full-length might seem strange to the casual observer, but it’s the individual track, the heat of the moment as it were, that becomes the bread and butter for these artists. So when limited to the single release, perhaps it’s in haste that we hold it in slightly higher regard than we should, that we overlook glaring omissions because our choices are so limited. We sacrifice subjectivity because we don’t know when next we’ll get the chance to be critical, and when that time does come do we only then begin to question the former with an interrogative ruthlessness. And it does seem to be an admission of the lack of material presented, as full-lengths are certainly not bereft of indelible scrutiny. For UK dubstep producer Seven, one does have to question just how well Evolution
might be received had its contents been scattered out over a number of individual releases.
As a whole, it’s certainly an interesting body of work, though an evolution of his sound it is sadly not. Evolution
is more of a blanket statement of sorts, not just for the producer’s career up to this point, but also for the various guises that a genre like dubstep is now able to operate under. The end result is a slightly mixed bag of crisp, accented snares and the kind of sub-bass rumble that London has been falling asleep to for the last ten or so years. The problem with this release lies within its ability to shift from deep, almost meditative atmospheres, to on-point ruffneck hardcore pummeling. As a way of blending the genre’s distinctive traits, or perhaps as a means to operate within both worlds, Seven’s debut full-length attempts to placate both audiences. It’s in that awareness, and perhaps burgeoning acceptance of meeting very separate expectations, that leaves Evolution
feeling like a work of two very different halves. For every action that Seven initiates, there’s the immediate reaction, as if to counterbalance the fluctuating styles. So while these distinctive points end up being given room to breathe, it ends up working against the album in the long run to the point where very little ends up building around any kind of cohesive statement, instead leaving the album to exist as little more than a collection of tracks. Which of course might be obvious, but there’s a feeling here that the tracks might not have been written specifically for this album, instead chosen at random rather than selected to help preserve the album’s integrity.
In saying that though, a lot of what unfolds on Evolution
is clearly Seven’s best work to date, from the swirling vortex of the title track to the downright menacing thump of ‘Grey Matter’. The jagged hooks of ‘Morning Light’ might have been overkill in other hands, but Seven wisely holds back from the obvious, instead choosing to punch holes in the surrounding silence with his mangled guitar line. Both ‘Feel It’ and ‘Came To Play’ co-opt the playful bounce of UK funky by wrapping skitterish percussion around relatively breezy bass lines; though the act might seem simple enough the result is still as potent, with dubstep’s current muse Alys Be turning in a decidedly slinky performance on the latter. All of this unfortunately makes the more aggressive moments of the album hurt even more, not just because they seem so out of place but because they feel as if they have to be here. The buzzsaw rhythms of ‘Picture This’ and the re-worked ‘Wait’ with its bombastic pedigree of subterranean wobble and low-end detonation are a far cry from the cerebral fare that Seven seems only too happy to indulge himself in for the majority of the album. Maybe it’s simply a way of blowing off a little steam but the idea exists that it could be a less than subtle way of attempting to buy his way into the hearts and minds of a certain stateside audience, or at least to cash in on a trend that by all rights he should be able to simply inherit. It’s an unfortunate stain on an otherwise solid album that perhaps could have benefited from a little more time spent trying to work out exactly what it wanted to be, and then perhaps choosing to elucidate that particular idea.