Hybrid Minds Perfect The Vocal Roller With Elements
Posted by Ben on 7th July 2017
The vocally-driven, sumptuous side of drum n bass is an area that’s thriving. Partly due to its commercial success which can sometimes be a bad thing, but also because there’s just so much out there, with lots of it sounding incredible. Take GLXY’s new single, for example.
Hybrid Minds, whilst obviously not just making vocal music, have always been better than most at producing it. Tracks like New Orleans and Trauma from their debut album exemplify that well enough, whilst their feature on Cut Me Loose by Bcee remains a long-term favourite of mine. Simply put, these two are adept at combining the human passion of voice with the gritty forcefulness of 170 bpm music.
Their second album has been in the pipeline for a while, and seeing it come out on their new imprint Hybrid Music has made its release all the sweeter. What’s it like, then? As good as Mountains? That’s a tough ask and whilst I’m not sure they’ve accomplished it unequivocally, Elements is certainly an album that shines brighter in many respects.
Some of its innards have been available for a little while, with one of the choicest being Touch which dropped as a single in May last year. Touch is one of four featuring Tiffani Juno who’s voice encapsulates the vibe aimed for throughout, possessing melancholia and joyous energy in equal measure. She’s fantastic in Touch, but even more so in Secret Place. Nervous, skittery percussion keeps it rhythmically engaging, fitting the vocals like a glove and ensuring they’re not overpowered, whilst bass inserts provide that needed underbelly. Sonically divine is a fairly disingenuous term, but it applies here, as Secret Place folds in delicate instrumentation to create a truly rich texture of sounds.
There a few vocalists I’m always excited to see listed on a track, and Rocky Nti is most definitely one of them. There’s no way he couldn’t be after his work with the likes of Bcee or Etherwood and his talent is on full display in Pretend, an echo chamber of emotion driven by Rocky, a soaring but subtle string section and mamba guitar flicks that wouldn’t be out of place in an insurance advert, but somehow tie Pretend up together perfectly.
As we’ve said on numerous occasions, albums with rhythmic diversity always make for more interesting listening. Hybrid Minds have pulled this off here as Home demonstrates, featuring Linguistics off his Tea Break and on an atmospheric run of verbal sparring over another impossibly rich sonic weave. Almost veering into spoken word territory, Home makes up for its lack of speed with purist emotive force, a showcase of how going downtempo should be done. Skin & Bones is the other ‘slow’ track, a shimmering lounger, precisely relaxed and swirling with featherweight adjustments. More excellent vocals from Grimm along with a production credit to Laurence Baker, it’s not the most exciting or daring, yet conjures up feelings you feel uncomfortable sharing. A pair of tear-jerkers, for sure.
This album is 15 tracks long, so there’s plenty more for you to get your teeth into that I haven’t covered here. As said at the beginning, it’s clear from Elements that no one does emotive, vocal rollers quite like Hybrid Minds, as they masterfully combine piercingly strong voice with organic instrumentation and full-on basslines. Demons, Inside and Brighter Days are just three more highlights, let alone their ever-growing back catalogue. I’m also extremely excited for the day that Hybrid Music begins to release music from other, unknown artists who occupy the same lane considering the ear the duo must have for the style.
However, I really do think Elements would’ve benefited from a wider range, stylistically speaking. I can’t help but compare it to Nu:Logic’s Somewhere Between The Light, which covered many bases but more specifically, came up with a string of incredibly original instrumental tunes. We know Hybrid Minds are more than capable of doing the same, so it’s slightly disappointing they chose to bring vocalists in on every single one of the tracks on Elements. Still, what they have decided to include is undoubtedly fantastic and a testament to the sheer musicality present in drum n bass at the moment.
Elements is out now on Hybrid Music, it’s a gorgeous piece and definitely worth your time. Grab it from iTunes here.