The Upbeats
Primitive Technique


3.5
great

Review

by Will Robinson STAFF
May 2nd, 2013 | 13 replies


Release Date: 04/29/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Exactly as we expected, except for the underwhelming bit

Let's be honest here: did anyone expect anything different from Primitive Technique? The Upbeats are techstep veterans hand-picked by genre titan Noisia to represent their somewhat new label Vision Recordings. Primitive Technique comes after a few brutal slices of techstep madness were released from the album earlier as singles, and the album has been described as "impeccable drum & bass." So, essentially, the album, from the day of its conception to the day of its release, has been a brutal, incredibly well-produced techstep release through and through. And, as much as I'd like to say that it's filled to the brim with an incredibly varied sound, the omnipresent neuro and techy wobbles here belie the album's true style. Not that this lack of variety is bad, of course - the release is one of the more solid DnB releases of the year. It just feels like when a listener puts down his headphones after the 64-minute runtime, he's bound to say, "That was exactly what I was expecting."

This viewpoint short-changes the quality of the release a bit, though. The whole thing is immaculately produced, with absolutely massive kicks and basslines as well as snares as tight as they come. The Upbeats have clearly been in the DnB scene for quite some time, and Primitive Technique sees the duo in the zone. Whether it's the ominous growls scattered carefully between the womps and bangs of "Beyond Reality" or the fine-tuned rimshots on "Alone," it's clear the New Zealand duo put in countless hours perfecting every aspect of the production. Plus, what we have here is some seriously excellent techstep, sure to destroy dancefloors around the globe. From the rolling drums of "Diffused" to the insanely heavy wobbles of "One Step," the whole thing hits hard from start to finish.

Going a little bit more in-depth about "One Step" for a moment, it's clear The Upbeats know how to make techstep. The variegated styles of wubs and snarly synths smack of the aforementioned Noisia, and the album is definitely on par with Split The Atom at its best. However, it's the lack of variety and serious experimentation which is the most frustrating thing about Primitive Technique, what separates it from Noisia's modern DnB classic. Though it's true The Upbeats don't fall into the same trap Enei did with Machines by stepping slightly out of their comfort zone (and it's a better album because of it), there's something to be said about an album entirely made out of BPMs around 175. Barring two or three songs, all non-interlude tracks take the duo's neuro/techy sound and don't do much with it except put it over a standard techstep feel (notable exceptions being the jungle-tinged "Thrasher" and its excellent machine-like walls of sound and the chilled-out "Alone," which to be honest is a little underwhelming - despite the excellent drum sounds the piece feels a little too restrained, and the vocals aren't really that great either). There's little experimentation here except for the numerous interlude tracks, which are (surprisingly) some of the best songs on the album. I'd love to see what the duo could do with the schizophrenic, half-time feel of Drum Stop or the almost Linkin Park-styled anthem of "Again I" on a five- or six-minute tune instead of a two-minute one, but unfortunately that's not going to happen here.

I feel like I'm being excessively harsh on Primitive Technique because I expected so much more. Sure, it's a solid album with a fair number of absolute bangers, and it's one of the better DnB releases of the year. However, the whole thing feels just a bit too safe and comfortable for such a talented group as The Upbeats. Then again, maybe I shouldn't have expected anything else. Though I wanted something more than the immaculately produced release chock-full of techstep bangers and not much else, it seems as though it's about par for the course for a group to play it safe nowadays. And while the interludes were tantalizing tastes of what could have been, it seems as though they were more geared towards breaking up the flow of straight neurofunk and techstep rather than being songs all on their own. At the end of the day, this is not a bad album. Unfortunately, it's just a little disappointing from a group with as much talent as this one.



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user ratings (7)
Chart.
3.4
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
Brostep
Staff Reviewer
May 2nd 2013


3492 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Originally posted on muzikdizcovery.com

Bleh, disappointed by this, was expecting it to be an AOTY candidate. Check it out if you like Noisia, it's still good

PunchforPunch
May 2nd 2013


6280 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

is it fast?

Acanthus
May 2nd 2013


9545 Comments


Like these guys, will have to look into this.

Digging: MO - No Mythologies To Follow

Brostep
Staff Reviewer
May 2nd 2013


3492 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

It's definitely good, but I was hoping for something that might have been AOTY

Zettel
May 2nd 2013


602 Comments


I am sampling the album right now, and from what I hear, this sounds closer to brostep/dubstep than to DnB. I do not know about the group's output, but how much experimentation do you expect from a DnB record? Unless they do something else that is NOT DnB, everything sounds more or less the same. Even the Naibu album you praised does not do nothing radically different.

The only other album to impress me in recent years besides Dom & Roland's The Big Bang LP (which is a fantastic album top to bottom, if not an innovative work) is Reso's album, which seemed to successfully incorporate various element into the mix and create something exciting which was not within any specific genre.

What I am trying to say is that I am not really sure what your complain is about this work. You seem to punish this album for trying to be a DnB album! And on top of that, it does not really sound like DnB! I guess the concept of being "safe" is very relative.

That said, your review and the samples made me want to check out this in full. Great writing.

Brostep
Staff Reviewer
May 2nd 2013


3492 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

If you don't count the 4 or 5 interludes, the LP doesn't stray more than 5 BPM away from 175. Granted, "Again" is dubstep, but it's only about 2.5 minutes so it doesn't really count. My main problem with this is the homogeneity of everything - it's kind of like my criticisms for Enei's album, though this is better. It's more that everything has kind of the same techstep wobble, whereas, taking Naibu's EP as an example, Fall didn't really fall into any liquid cliches. This is essentially Split The Atom without the interesting house and dubstep. I think Split The Atom would probably have been a high 3.5/low 4 for me had it not taken so many liberties to change the genre for extended periods of time - plus, there's nothing here that hits as hard as something like "Sunhammer."

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
May 2nd 2013


31493 Comments


None of this is techstep. And Noisia created Vision in 2005 - that's a far cry from "somewhat new"

If you don't count the 4 or 5 interludes, the LP doesn't stray more than 5 BPM away from 175.


Stop worrying, or even thinking about, BPM. For the millionth time, it means absolutely nothing. A new genre isn't magically created if an artist strays more than 5 BPM outside of any normal margin, and vice versa

Digging: Hyperdub - Hyperdub 10.4

Brostep
Staff Reviewer
May 2nd 2013


3492 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I didn't say new genres were created, I just said that in the comments to show that it's all pretty homogeneous. It doesn't stray far from the general structure of DnB, BPM or not.

Brostep
Staff Reviewer
May 2nd 2013


3492 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Also, what the hell is techstep? I was under the impression that the machine-like snarls were essential techstep components, but the definition hasn't ever been all that clear to me

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
May 2nd 2013


10362 Comments


So how much does BPM factor into what genre of electronic music this is?

Is it along the lines of "most dubstep is 70, but not all 70-BPM electronic music is dubstep."?

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
May 2nd 2013


31493 Comments


It's half time so 140 bpm

1) It doesn't

2) Pretty much, because sharing tempo doesn't make a track immediately part of something else

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
May 2nd 2013


10362 Comments


I see.

And dood, I don't think anybody was sayin' that "sharing tempo makes a track immediately part of something else"! =]

On a side note, the style here sounds interesting but I don't think I could handle more than an hour of it. i guess that's why I tend to enjoy electronic releases that differ in style drastically.

Zettel
May 5th 2013


602 Comments


After giving this three or four full listens, I am definitely liking this. The review may be harsh on the album, but the rating is correct. I do not find this as homogeneous as you, and for me there is enough variety to keep the album from getting too tiring.

I can only think your expectations were WAY too high. Still, thanks for the rec. I am discovering some nice new music through you.



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