After last month’s cinematic feature on Critical Music‘s latest compilation CD with ‘Baby Grey‘, Ivy Lab waste no time in releasing their latest conjury, that being the ‘Missing Persons EP’. Following recent successes with their linchpin and soulful songwriter Frank H Carter III, it makes no surprise that he graces the A-side once again. Fellow label cohort Emperor also appears on the potent ‘Pepper’ to dazzling effect, whilst the same tune receives remix treatment from Croydon’s Deft with a stunning touch of glitchy half-step.
The collaborative formula of Sabre, Stray & Halogenix is still very early days, yet a short string of singles on Critical with ‘Oblique‘ and ‘Afterthought‘, as well as a remix for Brownswood‘s Anushka, is all that was needed to make more than a mark within the drum & bass realm. Ivy Lab’s first EP displays their expertise in mastering different dimensions of this genre, yet with the same intention of quality in sound design.
The trio are distinctly varied in their approach to production as solo artists, so with decades of combined musical understanding they have conceived a stunning hybrid of pieces which will be Critical DJ goods for many dancefloors to come.
Missing Persons (feat. Frank Carter III)
Frank Carter III’s seductive vocal delivers again immaculately on Ivy Lab’s third link up with the New York singer. Drum & bass this clean, clear and crisp is exactly why the supergroup have gathered attention from all corners of the scene so swiftly. ‘Missing Persons’ ascends into an orchestral atmosphere of strings and synths, played upon delicately by Carter’s melodious voice as he chants ‘use yourself, lose yourself’.
Crisp percussion weaved amongst the warm low-end of the bass provides an elegantly smooth experience for the listener right through. How the captivating arrangement of the introduction follows effortlessly into the main section is remarkable, as it audibly oozes with symphonious and soulful vibes. The sheer substance in this song is indicative of every Ivy Lab production built thus far, and this shows no sign of easing up.
Continuing on with the smooth and blissful approach, in sparkling fashion ‘Live On Your Smile’ notably uses the same vocal sampled in Rockwell‘s ‘4U‘. This polished number serves up a deep and detailed soundscape, burning with charm in the thick of that adorable vocal cut.
In a similar but more resolute style than ‘Missing Persons’, the grungy guitar riff and dreamy sequence of sounds lay foundation for the driven fluidity of the drum beat. Too many artists as of late, across all genres, forget how important it is to match the quality of a song’s intro with its main section, or vice-versa. Ivy Lab remain dependable in this instance, guaranteeing their pieces remain rich and flowing at full length.
Pepper (w/ Emperor)
As it may have been anticipated by seeing Sabre, Stray, Halogenix and Emperor all together on a single tune, the sheer groove of this one will be sure to cause a ruckus in many a rave to come. The broody and growling acidic intro builds fervently, setting the tone for the mesmerising cheek of that rapturous synth line. As well as setting tones, this definitely sets a bar for the new year, because many artists will strive in coming close to the potency that this song bursts with.
The second section is lead from a perplexing composition of techno-like melodies, into what is just simply that murky bassline and ruthless drum beat combination. Expanding into more vigorous and industrious territory with ‘Pepper’, Ivy Lab’s finesse in applying rigorous attention to detail shines through distinctly.
With a quote taken from ’70s movie ‘The Mack’, the peculiar but playful bounce of the hip hop synth reverberates colourfully on a jagged half-time beat. This is flashy, catchy and once more branching out to cover more experimental ground within the loose spheres of contemporary drum & bass.
Amidst the easy-going melodies, ‘Sunday Crunk’ is complementary to flavours of sound which can be found on Med School Music, teeming to the brim with funk and originality.
To polish the EP off, this is Deft’s remix of Pepper which can be purchased exclusively through Critical Music’s Surus store. Fulfilling the duty of taking on an already formidable slice of drum & bass, Deft has cooked up a pure roller, with intriguing spiderweb percussion swinging itself about on a half-time loop.
Full credit to Ivy Lab for coming correctly on selecting the remixer, because this is intelligent music at its toughest. The second section lets loose with a full-on frenzy of aural assault, every sound so intricate throughout the fury of it all.
EP highlight: Pepper (w/ Emperor)
The Missing Persons EP is out now exclusively on Surus, available on double vinyl with the digital mp3s free to download upon purchase. If you enjoy this release you may also be interested in their previous releases; ‘Oblique / St. Clair‘ & ‘Afterthought / Brat‘. The EP is available to pre-order with all good music retailers, due for worldwide release on 24th February.
Originally written for UK Bass Music.