A “producer’s producer” if ever there was, the mention of a new dBridge production is capable of reducing jaded lifers within the steely inner citadel of DnB to hushed anticipation. Responsible for some of the most outward looking and fresh takes on the genre this past decade — ever, in fact — through myriad solo works, curation of Exit Records and, perhaps most importantly, helping spawn the Autonomic stable of artists, events and podcasts, Darren White’s productivity is matched by a spookily high “hit” rate. Until now, though, his solo work has largely remained within the 170 tempo range — albeit imbued with enough space to consistently prompt listeners to remind themselves that yes, they are indeed listening to drum and bass. Here, though, he returns to his new Velvit alias on the sophomore release for Convex Industries (run by half of Instra:mental, Jon Convex), exploring new tempos with stellar effect while retaining his signature essence of jungle soul futurism.
“Passing Encounter” is a soulful piece of early Detroit-influenced bass music, with a palpable Belleville vibe in the sweeping pads and retro-sounding beeps of the intro, before a tight drop brings proceedings up to date with masterfully sliced stabs and velvety percussive layers. A well-placed male vocal satisfactorily rounds things up towards the tracks latter stages and — while this is still quintessentially dBridge — it’s interesting to hear his lush palette attached to a readily responsive lower tempo. Unlike the latest Untold 12″ I reviewed last month, a record I felt didn’t quite fuse vintage tech-DnB influence and modern techno to a totally convincing effect, “Scarlett” takes many of same elements — prominent Reese bass, menacing vibe and peak-set techno drive — and marries them to devastatingly clinical effect. The bass line is a fully detuned affair, the tribal 4/4 pulse executed with palpable glee. It’s heartening to hear dBridge working his magic in a new context after spending so long in the jungle. And while this is by no means a wild exploratory journey away from bass camp, it is a silkily convincing record nonetheless, one clearly staking a place for his new alias and Convex Industries alike.