Noisia’s Outer Edges Has Set A New Benchmark For Bass Music
Posted by Ben on 6th September 2016
Hitting play on the first track of a brand new Noisia release is always a slightly stressful experience, because aside from knowing it’s going to knock you out and piss on your unconscious body, the specifics are all a bit up in the air. The legendary Groningen trio have found their way into every nook and cranny in the cavern that is modern bass music, creating their own niche sound and driving innovation unlike any other artist. What this means is a new Noisia album isn’t just another Drum & Bass album, another halftime album or even another bass music album – it’s a new Noisia album, simply because they’ve almost become an entity unto themselves and as such aren’t really bound by the same genre restrictions.
But as I said, the one certainty is that it’ll be heavy. Really, really heavy and Outer Edges is precisely that as Nik, Martijn and Thijs have provided us with 16 tunes that, to put it simply, don’t mess around. Tentacles is the first tune that properly caught my attention, partly because it was a Friction Fire and also one the most classically Dnb-esque, but mostly due to the combination of an incredibly original, almost dystopian introduction with an absolute monstrosity of a drop. You know the bass synth has been immaculately crafted, but at the same time it’s hard to believe simply because it sounds so tangled and broken, crushing the drums and letting you concentrate on nothing else. I’ve read people describing this track as jump up, and I couldn’t disagree more because despite the aforementioned roughness, Tentacles is just too clinical, too precise to fall into that camp. But either way, it’s a banger.
Mantra is another of the tracks on Outer Edges that is slightly closer to more traditional 170 stuff, but it’s not quite there and it’s anything but traditional. Once again Noisia get your attention in the first 30 seconds, with a fantastic, suspenseful build that seems to drag on forever whilst always ending too soon. Everything about this track is atmospheric from start to finish, and the introduction is so sick that when it finally drops the intensity doesn’t even rise that much, which is probably good for everyone’s hearts and doesn’t take away from what is a stunning piece of music.
I wouldn’t call Outer Edges a Drum & Bass album, mostly because it contains songs like Exavolt. This track is the sonic equivalent of the Frankenstein you would create if you chopped up the Noisia boys and stitched them together to create a single person, insanely aggressive at points but also scarily brooding and stripped down. The drum section is wonky and perfectly content to sit back and let the lower end fill in the gaps, which is does in spectacular fashion. Combined with grinding, other worldly synths that dominate the highs and lead the charge all the way through, Exavolt is definitely a serious screw facer. This one got played during Monuman’s set at Boomtown this year, and I can personally guarantee you that it goes off equally well live, not that that was ever in contention.
My favourite off the LP, and also the most original has to be The Entangled. A refreshing string introduction is a nice breath of fresh air and perhaps lends some sanity to the craziness, but is very much the side order to a much larger, richer main course. The Entangled is centred around a singular synth that is as full and saturated as it is unique, soaring through the top end of the range I’ve honestly never heard anything like it, and it really makes this tune stand out from the rest. There’s variation all the way through this track, it dips and dives more than Messi and like a lot of their work it makes The Entangled into a proper journey that takes you to places only Noisia could.
Noisia’s output and general activity over the past couple of years has been outstanding. Noisia Radio is a weekly staple at this point, Invisible, Vision and Division have been vessels for some ridiculously good music that encompass all different aspects of the bass sound, and how could we forget tunes like Dead Limit? For me Outer Edges is just a natural extension of the ethos Noisia have come to represent and the place that they hold in the bass community. The LP is insanely good, it has their trademark impeccable sound design, a lot of variety, some intense originality and it’s just packed full of deep, dark and murky vibes that mean I highly, highly doubt we’re going to hear a better album this year.