Pola & Bryson’s Debut Album Gets A Stunning Makeover
Posted by Ben on 24th September 2017
Pola & Bryson’s intelligent brand of Drum 7 bass has quickly propelled them into a duo you’d be idiotic to miss. There’s something unique and truly exciting about the way in which they construct their music, gone are the cheesy synths and forgettable minimalism that characterises a lot of light stuff these days, replaced instead by serene creativity and smart subtlety.
Their debut album This Time Last Year brought that sound to life in an incredible long play that deftly negotiated a variety of flavours, from the jungle knock-down of Devil to the hip-hop infused jazz of Way Back. As such, it was unsurprising but still extremely exciting to find out that a remix project was upon us, shining a new light on some of the LP’s best cuts.
To do so, they’ve roped a handful of the most talented producers out there: Hugh Hardie, S.P.Y, Was A Be, Chords, Data 3, Benny L and Silence Groove. The first thing hat struck me about this release is how perfectly matched each producer is to their respective track, a insight that only comes from ample experience and sheer good taste, qualities which the guys over at Soulvent definitely possess.
Hugh Hardie’s remix of Run From You epitomises that. The Cambridge whiz kid released his own album earlier this year to critical acclaim from all sides of the scene and his contribution here is absolutely unbelievable. Hugh’s drums are always guaranteed to fuck you up and this tune is no exception, as an assaulting clash of well-packed snares and flurried hi-hats inch you in at the top of the range. Once dropped, the percussion leads snap you down into a heaving, robust back end that seemingly fills every frequency not already covered by Sammie Bella’s gorgeous vocals. Hugh’s ability to seamlessly transition out of and into different elements always gives his music such a clean feel and Run From You may the best example of this to date – an unmissable tune.
Loz Contreras’s appearance on Diamonds Fall was a highlight of the album and taking us out of rolling territory towards more inhospitable waters is Was A Be, with his ferocious jungle take on a previously mellow cut. Was A Be’s individualism comes in numerous different incarnations and this time he’s taken the original’s soft edged synth lines, shaped them around a messy jungle break and warped an armchair sitter into a dancefloor stepper. This tune smacks of the old school but suits the new school just fine and reminds me of the direction Technimatic took with their Night Vision VIP, both proving that dreamy harmonies and nightmare drums work like bread and butter.
LSB tweeted the other day asking about the lack of new MCs and I was happy to see a couple of replies mentioning Siege MC, the lyricist present on Way Back and a man with a voice made for the MC game. Way Back was my personal favourite from the album and it gets remix treatment at the hands of Data 3, a trio comprised of Bryson, MIDA and Syrum that simply love all things rolling. This remix is just that, not too complex but stunningly good, the original’s feather weight dynamism replaced with forceful acceleration via a back end brimming with gravelly bass. One of those low ends that’s so powerful it’s almost soothing, setting the scene for Siege MC and transforming the original into something murky but still innately musical.
I couldn’t really not discuss S.P.Y’s contribution, the man is such a legend it’d almost feel like a insult. There’s nothing insulting about his version of Temporary Love featuring now-regular BLAKE on vocals, a singer who seems ideally suited for Pola & Bryson’s sound, especially after the recent Unsaid. S.P.Y dusts over Temporary Love with his customary punchiness, flipping the vibe from sultry kindness to something altogether more haunting and melancholic. Recently his output has focused on darker, bassier sounds through his Alone in the Dark EP series, so hearing a tune from him that resides in a more melodic corner is a refreshing change. Make sure you listen all the way through too, the last section stepping back from drum n bass completely for a softly touched, shimmering finish.
Pola & Bryson and the Soulvent team have excelled themselves with this release. Not too soon to the album’s release to feel repetitive but close enough to be familiar, and curated with the ears of guys who both know and love the music they’re involved with. As mentioned earlier the artists they’ve chosen couldn’t be better, all of them tread the line between the original and their own sound with pinpoint accuracy, giving This Time Last Year a makeover which strikes you as different but also distinctly Soulvent.
The boys and their label have never looked like planning on slowing their upwards climb anytime soon and This Time Last Year: The Remixes only confirms that fact. You can pick this one up from Friday the 22nd on iTunes here.