MP3 Nebula - Astral Soul
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5 MP3 Songs in this album (35:19) !
Related styles: Electronic: Drum 'n Bass/Jungle, Electronic: IDM, Mood: Dreamy
People who are interested in Breakage Goldie LTJ Bukem should consider this download.
Everyday Junglist Blog - review by Fonik
It becomes hard to maintain any kind of journalistic impartiality when certain producers and/or labels continually raise and exceed the bar of expectation with regards to their music. Regular readers of the blog will, by now, be well versed in my love for Subtle Audio - Never one to be swayed by current trends or fashionable sub-genres, this label has been carving out its own distinct and enviably high quality path within drum & bass since its inception back in 2005. The old adage of having to âdig a little deeperâ to find the truly exceptional music within any given genre is never more true than it is with Subtle, operating, as it does, slightly below the radar of many d&b heads. This lack of pressure with regards to commercial expectation and more mainstream recognition affords it the freedom and space needed to truly blaze a trail and fly the flag for certain sub-sections of d&b that wont be packing out Fabric at 3am on a Friday night for example, and it is all the better for it. Since last year to present the label has been on an run of form so exemplary - 12âs from Sub, Polska and Equinox, the Polska LP, the Subtle Audio Vol. II compilation album - it is almost to its detriment. With each new release it becomes increasingly difficult to live up to the impossibly high standards that have gone before but much to my personal delight and amazement each new release takes the labelâs quality to a whole new level entirely.
The latest from the Subtle camp is the âAstral Soul EPâ from Nebula which really is one of the finest in its 6 year history - quite a statement given what has preceded it. Nebula has been bubbling up for a few years now, outings on Subtle and Scientific Wax (if these two labels were towns, they would be twinned with each other) have provided glimpses of his undoubted aptitude when it comes to combining deep atmospherics with precise breakbeat manipulation and while these previous endeavours have perhaps demonstrated a slighly rougher side to his production this EP is a beautiful counter-point to this â a softer, more melodic approach confidently demonstrates he is no one trick pony.
The EP opens with what is probably its strongest track, Encounters. According to label head Code the tracklist for this EP was a long time in the making and it was in fact this track that was the last to be added to line up, and everyone should be thankful that both label and producer were patient enough to wait for the perfect tune to complete this Extended Player rather than just chuck anything in to make up the numbers. Deep 808 sub bass, dreamy chords, sweet female vocal and rough amen - all the ingredients needed for a beautiful jungle pie which Nebula has cooked up to perfection. It would be criminal to simply see this track as a combination of those 4 elements however, there is more going on throughout than first meets the eye (or should that be ear?). It is the brilliant subtlety of what sounds like bird song in the background for example that adds little points of interest for the listener throughout whilst at the same time cleverly referencing the era in which jungle reigned supreme and from which Nebula still takes most of his inspiration. It is a masterful, 8 minute epic and a worthy track with which to open this EP.
Of course this opening gambit means that what follows has a lot to live up to but thankfully they are up to the task. Warm Currentsâ hollow, almost brittle drums gently undulate throughout (if I were more of an afficionado I could tell what break he used, but sadly I am not so I cant. All I know is that its not an amen!). There are certain sounds and stylistic elements that sound similar to those of Equinox which, given his position as almost the figurehead for this modern jungle sound, are a nice touch and demonstrate further Nebulaâs references to those that have and continue to influence his sound. The title track, âAstral Soulâ, provides proof, if it was really needed, that there is still plenty of life left in the Amen yet. It is hard to recall another track that has used this famous 4 bar break so inventively and so originally â a multitude of short edits stutter up through the mix, disappearing back down into the depths as quickly as they appear. Itâs a clever technique, one that could rip the groove out of the heart of the track if executed badly but one that actually equips it with a vibe that is unique and timeless. âEscapismâ & âHidden Oasisâ, two stylistically similar pieces round things off with deep rumbling bass married with crisp rolling drums and a healthy dose of cymbal hits that provide a softer, more melodic edge to the tracks.
This is a masterful release from both a producer and label that are really deserving of more recognition than they get. That being said, and as mentioned earlier in this review, it is perhaps this lack glare from the spotlight that has fostered the environment in which these tracks can flourish. Recognition and fame (although clearly fame within d&b is not really fame in the true sense) more often than not kills creativity, originality and the spirit of experimentation and if operating slightly left of centre and in the shadow of âbiggerâ labels is what it takes for this kind of music to be crafted and released than I hope this light never shines the way of Nebula or Subtle Audio. Now that sounds extremely selfish, and in honesty it is, but throughout the 2 ½ years of this websites existence I have, sadly, (although I must admit it is probably to my benefit) become increasing critical of and cynical about drum & bass with almost every passing day. It is releases like this however that re-affirm my belief in and love for this music, and I donât want that to stop.
Press Release :
Despite the fact that he hadnât even reached his teenage years around the time of Jungleâs hey-day in the mid nineties, thatâs the sound that still influences Nebula (aka Peter Saunders) the most to this day. The âAstral Soulâ EP focuses on the atmospheric and meditative side of Nebulaâs production but the breakbeat manipulation and rumbling bass people best know him for are still to the fore. Rough and smooth, ethereal and brutal, fast and slow, the strength of this collection is in the finely balanced juxtaposition of these contrasting elements. While there there is a journey to be made within each track, there is another to be made in traversing the EP as a whole â you might just feel like youâve reached some far away universe by the end ! Whether itâs the drifting atmosphere and acrobatic amens of âEncountersâ, the lush pads and tough beats of âWarm Currentsâ, the glistening synths and crashing snare-step of âAstral Soulâ, the machine-gun rhythms and strings of âEscapsimâ or the trippy breakbeats leading you to the âHidden Oasisâ, this is an adventure where horizons are broadened and new discoveries made throughout.
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