Review Summary: A great example of how to tell a story without a single lyric.
When I first heard Forcefield
, it instantly reminded me of my favorite thing about all the electronic music I enjoy: the way it creates a mood and a setting. The beats merely set the musical base so the unsettling synths and odd bass lines can twist and mingle with each other in all sorts of weird ways; of course, this is all according to the creator’s plan. Myles Oliver (aka AnimalsAsSummit) has given us a wonderfully warped playground of crazy drum and bass tunes, all giving off distinct vibes but still adhering to the same futuristic setting. In fact, let’s see what his intention was with this release:
“Forcefield represents all of what I've wanted to put into drum and bass music. Heavy and groovy sounds that don't fit into any one time, or stick to any rulebook. Here I set out to complete 10 tracks of floor-ripping funk. From the spinning blades of the apache helicopters over a silver city, to the kung fu warriors of the future; this is a mental trip into another dimension.”
This came from his Bandcamp page, and I couldn’t agree more with his sentiments. What makes Forcefield
such a fun listen is that it creates so much imagery without Oliver singing or speaking a single word in the music itself. The album is purely instrumental (sans the samples, which contain some dialogue), but its atmosphere comes from how creatively written and arranged everything is. In fact, it’s a great example of how effective repetition is when it’s used correctly; the beats themselves aren’t altered very much, but as I stated above, they’re only there to set the stage for everything else going on above them. “Circle of Seven Fists” is an excellent representation of such, as I imagine this song is what Oliver was referring to with the “kung fu warriors of the future”; the abrasive synth lines and creative samples really make you feel as though you’re engaged in a fight with martial arts masters in some dystopian alternate universe. Meanwhile, a more lengthy excursion like “The Human Download” manages to stretch its wings out a bit more by periodically switching up its beats and altering between light and dark soundscapes. Pay particular note to the middle section, which plunges the listener into a grimy industrial environment while the frantic drums push everything along; chilling stuff.
You have to give Oliver credit here; the song titles do a great job of matching the mood each track is going for. “Momentum” has an incredibly apt title, as the consistently fast beat is complemented by weird swooping electronic effects that come at differing speeds. Then there’s “Night Vision”, whose brooding synths and strange “wah-wah” effects give off the feeling of walking down a particularly dangerous part of the city at night. My favorite moments of Forcefield
however, are the ones in which the beats stop completely and you get a moment of reflection before the intensity starts up again. “Night Vision”, the title track, and the outro of “Circle of Seven Fists” have the best examples of this, and they provide a nice respite from the rest of the action. If there was one thing that could be improved upon here, however, it would be the variety of the beats. Most songs go at a pretty consistent tempo, and while speedy tracks can be exciting, the next record would benefit from Oliver switching things up a bit more in this department. Still, that doesn’t detract too much from what is otherwise an incredibly solid effort. Myles Oliver has a lot to be proud of with this recording, and it’ll be interesting to see where he goes from here. I haven’t listened to much of his back catalogue, but based on the quality of Forcefield
, it seems as though I have a lot of great music to explore in the near future.