Ivy Lab’s Peninsula Is Five Heavy Halftime Hitters

Posted by Ben on 22nd March 2017

Ivy Lab have firmly established themselves as front runners in the wonky world of halftime Drum & Bass, and through both Critical and their own 20/20 imprint, the trio have blessed us with a string of groove-packed, hip hop headbangers.

Back on Critical this time around, Stray, Sabre and Halogenix offer up 5 tracks including a Digital exclusive to add to their growing pile of top quality releases. Often switching up the nature of their productions from sultry liquid rollers through to techy bits of downtempo precision, Ivy Lab pretty much do it all stylistically.

Peninsula is the title track, a good choice considering the example it sets for the others, as it’s layered soundscapes and joint-like precision all pop up throughout this EP. Almost like halftime screwed a transformer, Peninsula’s mechanical grooves sits above a swelling bed of low frequencies, alive and dynamic, listening is like you’re a cog in a machine. Another step up in Ivy Lab’s always incredible productions.

Creeping along straight after is Magikess, who’s ominous introductory drips and groans could’ve been recorded at the bottom of a well. Probably my favourite from the EP, the percussive groove is off the charts, a squelchy subterranean journey complete with a grating, gravelly lower end. I especially love the flick of creaky metal that accompanies the drums, it adds fuller range coverage whilst leaving the arrangement satisfyingly sparse. One for the basement.

Bringing out the first human touch in a progressively complex vocal sample, Thirsty is maybe a bit nicer in character. Not as darkly looming, another set of incredibly crisp drums maintain that fearsome hip-hop groove, merging with melodic features and distorted synth hits. Everything here shouts coordination and attention to detail, and despite there being a little less going on, Thirsty is full of character.

Back on a moodier flex, a metallic edge to the drums is beautifully clean, and combined with the wider bass, makes Eyes Down surprisingly easy on the ears. Sluggish and unencumbered, the loping pace packs a little less groove but a lot more maturity, and it’s the subtle changes of tone I like the most.

One of the best tracks from the trio’s last solo EP Twenty Questions, was Forex, a nasty bit of 170 darkness. The VIP comes as the digital exclusive, closing out the release and adding a nice touch. This track actually reminds me of Mythos by InsideInfo and Mefjus, something about the top synths plodding over one another, more booming bass pulses shaking underneath.

I’m really into this slower sound at the moment, and it’s thanks to people like Ivy Lab, amongst many others, making absolutely dirty, heavy hitters that make up their reduced tempo with increased attitude. Production levels are at awesome heights here too, and it all comes together to be a seriously intense bit of listening. Grab it from the Critical store now.

Critical MusicIvy Lab

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