Photek – Avalanche (2011)

Like you might expect from anyone starting to explore dubstep in 2011, drum & bass pioneer Photek seems to take inspiration from the harsher, heavier side of the genre, the one that favours midrange over sub-bass. Rather than mindlessly wobbling, though, the LFO basslines snake and undulate slowly, ferociously bulldozing their way through. It’s obvious from the very first minute what works so well: they just sound huge, persuasively confident. Uncluttered and forceful, they’re full and burly in the same way that has always separated Photek’s best work from the masses. For those who miss Photek’s Solaris days, the other half of the EP is devoted to uptempo house. Now, however, it’s similarly tight, weighted, and syncopated. “This City” is essentially “Photek does filter-house,” punctured by sections of abrasive static, while “101” is a hi-def update on Solaris, all chunky drums brushed softly by grandiose chords and euphoric vocal gasps. Boddika shows up for remix duty, and his “Drum Machine” mix of “101” turns the track into a shuddering, appropriately percussive ride. It’s heartening to hear how comfortable Photek sounds in his newest pair of shoes. Don’t confuse comfort with complacency, because these are the most vicious, hungry tracks Photek has produced since the ’90s. And if that don’t make you happy, then I don’t know.residentadvisor

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