mon 14/06/2021

CD: Sub Focus - Torus | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Sub Focus - Torus

CD: Sub Focus - Torus

How does drum'n'bass fare when taken out from the underground?

Torus: ringing the changes or a load of bull?

When drum'n'bass emerged from hardcore rave's interactions with London's pirate radio culture, 20-odd years ago, it created some of the most radical grassroots music ever to come out of the British Isles. It came in such a white heat explosion of underground, transforming repeatedly and rapidly through different iterations its first few years, that nobody could have predicted that it would reach a commercial high-point two decades on.

Yet here we are with the likes of DJ Fresh creating chart toppers, d'n'b's top rank of DJs still touring the world to arena crowds, and a whole range of new variants still coming from deep and strange club sounds to delirious hyper pop.

It's the latter that Sub Focus deals in. In fact, the 31-year-old producer's works in the latter half of the last decade were critical in defining the new, fizzy, youth-friendly strain of the genre that would lead to it having an unexpected commercial resurgence. On this, his second album, he doesn't stray far from the blaring riffs, thickly harmonised synths, and barely-syncopated rhythms that made his name – although he does branch out in tempo and rhythm, dipping frequently into house and the kind of dubstep that has lately become as unfashionable as d'n'b was in the early 2000s.

It's all a bit of a mess, but enjoyably so. The in-your-face production and nagging hooks recall both Jean Michel Jarre style synth prog, and also 1980s stadium pop, even as the swishes and swooshes do their best to emulate the effects of whatever Chinese “research chemical” is currently keeping teenagers up and drinking Jaegerbombs all night. There are brilliant moments, as in the robo-house of “Close” with odd-pop singer-songwriter MNEK and the stadium indie-rave of “Turn it Around” with Bloc Party's Kele, but in general its rictus grin euphoria is a long, long way from the dark, strange, spontaneous creativity of its ancestor genre way back when.

The in-your-face production and nagging hooks recall both Jean Michel Jarre style synth prog, and also 1980s stadium pop


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

Share this article

Add comment


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters