Vex'd: Cloud Seed
Planet Mu

If Cloud Seed may be seen as representative of the Vex'd style, no shortage of amount of black blood runs through the group's veins. After Jamie Vex'd (Jamie Teasdale) and Roly P (Roly Porter) issued their well-received debut album Degenerate on Planet Mu in 2005, the pair worked on a follow-up that never saw the light of day. By their own admission, before the album was completed, the two had moved away from each other to cities in different countries, and the logistics of collaborating proved too difficult to overcome. As a result, Cloud Seed became one of those infamous ‘lost albums' that seemed poised to remain something more written about by future dubstep historians than heard by the general public. Until, that is, Planet Mu stepped in, and expressed an interest in releasing the material, unfinished or not. The resultant hour-long collection thus features Vex'd originals plus a handful of remixes the duo produced for Plaid, John Richards, Gabriel Prokofiev, and Distance.

The duo takes no prisoners in opening the album with the hard-hitting “Take Time Out,” its deathly lurch drenched in hydraulic clatter, industrial noise, and Warrior Queen's defiant chants, and the post-nuclear soundscape “Remains of the Day,” where symphonic strings suggest rays of hope emerging from a smoldering zone of malfunctioning machines. Anneka's angelic voice rises from the ruined ashes as “Heart Space” wipes away the toxic residue of the preceding track, before “Out of the Hills” rolls out a thick, sinister swirl of dub bass and dubstep fire that pulls the material back down to the depths. Elsewhere, Jest's drawl breathes life into the bass-swollen lurch of “Dispostion,” while the remix of Plaid's “Bar Kimura” is just as menacing as any of Vex'd's own tracks, as is the overhaul of Distance's “Fallen.” A predilection for dark cinematic soundscaping rears its head in “Suite For Piano & Electronics,” Vex'd's remix of John Richards' work, and in the even gloomier “Killing Floor,” which splatters its dubstep pulse with distorted groans befitting a torture chamber. The classical leanings in Vex'd's work also surfaces in the rework of Gabriel Prokofiev's “String Quartet No 2.” The circuitous path Cloud Seed underwent leading up to its release might suggest that there would be a patchwork quality to the album, but instead it comes across as one thoroughly considered in terms of sequencing. A given track flows into the one following in such a way that a unified travelogue through brutalized, dystopic territory is the portrait the listener takes away from the experience.

May 2010