Dryft: Ventricle

As if producing albums under the Bitcrush name and overseeing one of the most consistent high-quality electronic labels around isn't enough, Mike Cadoo has somehow managed to squeeze in the resurrection of his long-dormant Dryft project. It came into being on the 2000 album Cell, born from Cadoo's desire to infuse the overly aggressive style of drum'n'bass then rampant with the bittersweet melancholy of IDM. Two years later, the Mytotyc Exyt EP found Dryft's focus shifting to click-hop. Now, eight years on from that, Dryft returns with an album of epic scope designed to be played loud for maximum impact.

Opener “Recalcify” initially suggests that Ventricle will be a celestial ambient outing before the piece mutates into a large-scale electronica workout complete with combustible breaks. The wall of sound gradually built up in that track carries over into the subsequent material—“Vector Step (Regeneration)” one such example—where one confronts symphonic blends of ambient, industrial, and electronica powered by beat structures with roots in jungle and drum'n'bass. If there's a prevailing mood, it's melancholy, with some tracks pushing the material's emotional potential to a fever pitch (e.g., the mournful “Vapours and Waste”). Throughout the set, the bass drum hits as hard as a stomach punch, and synth elements rage with epic fury. The music's symphonic dimension is also on full display throughout. Strip away the clattering drums and ambient atmospheres of “Vapours and Waste,” for example, and its graceful arc of string layers would stand out all the more clearly. “Knives As Gifts” is a firestorm of classic drum'n'bass, with those familiar rolling snares overlaid with a torrent of viral noise and synth strafings, while “No Bargains, No Pleas,” following an elegant strings intro, settles into industrial-IDM mode with skittish beats wrapped in blankets of ambient synth swirls.

As a sidenote, it's interesting that, in actual fact, Ventricle sounds as much like a quintessential Tympanik Audio release as it does an n5MD one. The widescreen mix of beats and strings roaring through tracks like “...And Again” and “(Re)Prise” identifies Ventricle as a veritable template of sorts for many a Tympanik Audio outing. Think of Dryft as n5MD's harder side, a counterbalance of sorts to the label's less aggressive output.

October 2010