BY CAMERON SEIBOLD
Producers Mumdance and Logos are standing at the forefront of the resurgence in interest in the instrumental side of UK grime. With Logos’ release of album “Cold Mission” in 2013 and Mumdance’s hit productions for up-and-coming grime artist Novelist in the past year, this 10-track collaborative effort is a match made in grime heaven.
Try not to go into this one with any expectations. Both artists have unique styles as solo artists, and while they retain their unique identities within “Proto,” the collaborative effort between the two actually offers up some unique flavors, ranging from minimal and meditative to loud, brash, grimy and ravey. The elements of grime music remain strong, while also dipping into both artists’ interests in jungle and hardcore.
Straight out of the gate we get a dash of minimalism with something extra that could have only been thought up by this pairing of artists. It’s not a track that can really be identified as being one or the other’s style, other than the sparseness and space in the sound shared by both. It’s a seven-minute-long trek through a minimal, bleep-filled techno landscape, building interest about where the album might lead the listener in its next nine tracks.
A complete 180 occurs on the second track “Dance Energy.” The Roland TR909 drum machine, beloved by the underground, bursts into the track accompanied by a rolling breakbeat, rumbling gritty bass line and a reverb-coated vocal chant. The eerie synthesized choir vocals floating on top and bright synth stabs solidify the tune’s direction.
The track recreates and embodies the qualities of the early ‘90s rave music that both producers quote as being an inspiration. This is the kind of rave nostalgia popular right now, and with good reason. Everything comes full circle, and people want to hear these kinds of tunes on the dance floor once again in 2015.
Tracks “Chaos Energy” and “Hall of Mirrors” might hold more expected sounds for a Mumdance and Logos collaboration, offering spatial build ups, powerful percussion and their trademark future grime aesthetic. The massive rhythms and percussion of these tracks showcase the grime influence of the two artists. Completely foregoing any and all melody, it’s just powerful, physical head-nodding beats.
The title track “Proto” harkens back to “Dance Energy,” infusing ‘90s hardcore, jungle, and grime elements into a hybrid of old and new that works incredibly well.
This track is really the thesis of the album. The rhythmic complexity of the rolling old school breakbeat is interspersed with bars of complete silence, only to come swinging back into life accompanied by the gigantic banging claps and hats of the 909 drum machine. These contrasting elements hold much energy and power; it’s a completely fresh and unique sound impossible to ignore.
Fans of electronic music should not miss the collaboration of Mumdance and Logos. That being said, it is most definitely not the most accessible release in the world.
It’s extremely sparse and minimal at times, withholding almost all the comforts that an American EDM listener is accustomed to. It’s almost purely percussion, space and ambience. Melodies are few and far between. So, if you aren’t a fan of vintage drum machines and break beats, you might want to hold off on this one until you’ve grown into this area of music. However, for the experienced listener, “Proto” really shows how far Logos and Mumdance are able to push the future grime aesthetic into 2015. It’s an embodiment of their work pushing dance music to extremes, as well as their interest in the past. The contrast between the two, as well as the new ideas that are presented, really come together to make a great album