Current Value’s dynamic and forward-thinking output has made him a hard producer to nail down to a specific sub-genre of drum and bass, with his style almost amounting to a genre itself. It’s safe to say that very few people expected him to release his brand new Scalar EP on 31 Recordings, but with the announcement of this by the mighty Doc Scott in his latest interview with UKF, it made sense why this taste-making label would have identified with Current Value as a pure and unique talent to highlight.
With a career longer than the entire lifetime of a good chunk of people reading this, namely 25 years, Doc Scott is one of the genre’s pioneers, who’s been there from the very beginning. Although we haven’t seen any productions from him for a decade, he’s been gaining enormous reputation as a genre’s tastemaker via his label 31 Recordings. In the last couple of years, he really enjoyed surprising his followers with unusual choices of artists who get released on the imprint. One time he’s pushing the experimental vibes by introducing Drum & Bass fans to the exceptionally talented Vromm, other times he’s drops an ExP from jump-up scene’s favorite Serum or shows J:Kenzo’s take on the genre. With 23 years in business and releases from dozens of most known artists in the genre, there’s no doubt that working with this label is a huge honor. Doc Scott’s been really interested to work with Current Value, because as he said himself: “we never had someone from that hard techy sound on the label but he’s got a groove. He can roll it out but still be hard with it.” With all that being said, you can already tell that we are up for a very unusual ride, so let’s see what Scalar EP has to offer.
This release stands in stark contrast to CV’s previous Starfleet EP that came out on Blackout, which only emphasizes the diversity of his creations. His ability to go from earthshattering all-out neurofunk bangers to deeper and more groovy rollers with a developing atmosphere, while also finding something in between that works perfectly never ceases to amaze. He’s been pushing his own style for so many years, polishing it to perfection, that it’s safe to say that he’s developed his very own kind of Drum & Bass that you’ll instantly recognize. Opposite to Starfleet, Scalar EP is much more restrained, it’s all about achieving that minimal groove that keeps you hooked, slowly progressing it and completely drowning the listener in the atmosphere.
The title track, “Scalar”, meets us with sharp paranoid pads that are constantly moving and fill up the entire space around you, while trademark precision-engineered drums lead the way. As in most of his tunes, CV keeps his intros gracefully simple – one of the hallmarks of his style. A mysterious percussion loop joins the scenery later on in the intro and it alone can make you go back to this track time and time again. The drop is a carefully woven canvas made up of a plethora of sounds that some futuristic machinery would make, which give the track its dystopian and industrial vibe. The second drop progresses the scenery further by switching up the drums and introducing short and vivid synth bursts and brings a tune to its climax with beautiful pads.
“Bigger Picture” in some way feels like an homage to the Stay On This Planet era, which is amazing, because it makes you think about how much his productions have evolved in the last couple of years and some of the elements reminiscent of older tunes now sound so much better and cleaner. It brings thoughts like this mainly because of the bassline, which is really viscous and jittery. Because of its nature you don’t really need anything else in the drop except for it and drums to create such a clean and catchy groove. Yet in the second drop the tune is on the brink of insanity when everything else becomes as twitchy as the bassline itself, which may seem a sudden change of tone, yet on practice sounds like the only right way to do it.
“Major Fracture” likes to keep its frequencies low at first, so that you immediately feel the impact when the higher ones hit. It starts off really slow, letting you completely devour the tasty sub bass it paired up with the catchy drum loop. It sounds like a huge factory, where everything works as intended, but not for long. The system soon spins out of control and is consumed by complete discord as really shard sounds of metal screeching burst into the track in swift strokes and the drums start to enrage and stutter. There are no signs of it ever stopping and by the second drop the pitch of this screeching becomes even higher, as if all the machinery got possessed by some rogue AI which took the entire place over and is up to no good.
“Reconsider” is the lightest among the pack and combines lifeless tech-infused sounds and percussion with some really light emotion-infused, even somewhat adventurous synths and pads. It throws you somewhere into the future and shows you the world if it developed according to some steampunk fiction, where everything is steam- and mechanically-powered and you alone set out to explore this mysterious world, where all the life is dictated by the cyclic movement of the gears. The entire tune is a breathtaking journey that keeps you excited all the way through by constantly introducing something new down along the line, while also making you feel connected to the elements that remain changeless through its entirety.
Overall, this EP demonstrates Current Value’s enormous experience in creating unique atmospheric landscapes in his music, while also keeping the core of his tracks full of groove and energy, which makes them great journeys to live through as well as great tunes to dance to. No matter how detached CV’s game may seem from Doc Scott’s, this release matches the manifesto of 31 Recordings perfectly, making it one of this year’s highlights.
Words by Vlad Yaremchuk
CURRENT VALUE - SCALAR EP
Release date // 2017-05-05
Label // 31 Recordings
Cat. No. // 31RS027
BEATPORT LINK //
Current Value //
Soundcloud - https://soundcloud.com/tim-e-aka-current-value
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/currentvalue/
31 Recordings //
Soundcloud - https://soundcloud.com/31recordings
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/31Recordings/