So... One of the most anticipated albums of the year. Catalogue number: BBK002LP (although I've also seen it as BBKLP002).
This album's already been described by the creators themselves, but I don't think an autobiographical review is the most helpful at times (would you criticise your own work? Exactly).
Let's get going.
A. Pendulum - Slam
B. Pendulum - Plastic World (Featuring TC & Fats)
C. Pendulum - Through The Loop
D. Pendulum - Girl In The Fire
E. Pendulum - Hold Your Colour
F. Pendulum - Sounds Of Life
G. Pendulum - Terminal
H. Pendulum - Out There (that breaks track)
Time for the review...
What can be said? If you've been to a rave with big name DJs since... 6 months ago (at least), you'll have probably heard this track until it's coming (back) out of your ears. A tasty slice of dancefloor-orientated goodness that's also been receiving day- and prime-time airplay on Radio 1 (which I suppose is good, as it'll get people outside of the typical demographic interested in Drum & Bass). Zane Lowe seems to nurse a semi every time he plays it.
For those who still haven't heard it, and don't perhaps like the more typical sounds of dancefloor Pendulum, then it won't be anything new and/or exciting. Guaranteed to fit in nicely with your average club playlist.
DAYUMN, this track's grown on me loads (but I liked it pretty much first time I heard it, anyway). From the intro, with the horns caressing you into the song, and some soulful sax playing (with layered harmonies), this track makes a great mix intro choice imo. After the initial buildup, the phat Pendulum drums come in (how they get them that crisp I wouldn't mind knowing). Fats' voice works perfectly on this track, and the amount he's featured in the track - placed in the mix nicely, definitely complements the track, not too many stupidly-rhyming-but-otherwise-pointless vocals (I'm thinking... Darrison, oops did I say his name. shame). The bass is a simple and deep bite of sine goodness with some womping accents, it's how I'd imagine a D-Bridge and Pendulum collab would sound. Good crossover track for a mix if you wanted to go from liquid to more floor-based stuff, or it'd go great into a liquid mix too. Very mellow. You might have heard this track for a while, as an almost full copy was out on the web and linked up on various forums recently.
Through The Loop
This is probably the track which I least like from the album - it feels a little bit unfinished to me, the intro's promising, with the sample from a certain film (if you don't know it, where were you as a kid?), it could go somewhere really messy and dark, but they use a little bit too much of the sample, sure once it gets to the drop it drops heavily and would go off for sure in a club, with some nice incidental synth stabs and various crunchy bass, I'd gauge it to be an alternative B side to Slam in terms of effectiveness. Melodically it's fairly simple (even for dancefloor standard), there's some hints of sliced up breaks in there - which disappointed me, as I would've liked to have seen Pendulum take a shot at doing some choppier stuff - a real proper break from the norm, give their regular drumkits a short break
Better stuff up next...
Girl In The Fire
Latin-y guitar samples start us off here, being complemented by some bossa nova drums, more guitars layered up well - if you're into your more musical dancefloor it works well, because as it drops those tight Pendulum drums come in to greet us, and the bass swoops in to say hi how are you doing prepare for some chest cavity rattlage. I want to hear this on a big system where the bass can get chucked out properly.
In composition, it's fairly similar to a regular Pendulum floor track, but the addition of the South American guitars and percussion really add an extra bit of zest (and the electric guitar solo after drop #2 is pretty cool). You can tell that the P boys were feeling jazzy that day, and it translates fairly well I think - not entirely synth-laden music, but it still works well in a mix.
Hold Your Colour
Vocoded vocals on the intro echo round the soundscape, soon followed up by some multitracked vocals with a nice floating vocal line - the drop hits us fairly quickly in this track (or at least it feels like it does). All of a sudden, we're into the song's main section, and there's some quite AI-style bass womping going on (which isn't necessarily a bad thing). Again, it's not a completely stand-out track, it's more one of those tracks which fits into a mix (those mixdowns, grr, how jealous am I of their drums!)... Oh, I can hear an amen rolling away in the background too (yay for the amen).
Thinking about this track from another angle (I'm in a "what if-style collaborations comparison" mood), it's possibly the kind of track which would emerge from a Pendulum-Daft Punk meetup, the mood and style of the vocals, the way they're processed/layered and the lyrics). Maybe. Maybe not, but we'll never know for sure The lyrics are kinda inspirational, "hold your colours against the wall / when they take everything away", so there's a chance that it might have been written in part for someone, or with someone in mind.
Sounds of Life
(yes, that one given out on beatport).
Initially reminds me of another Pendulum track from way back when, Still Grey - it really is like they took the soul and feeling from that track, infused into this new one, and made it a little bit less liquid. One of the lyrics even mentions waiting for the 'flash of grey', so who knows (subtle in-reference?). The vocals on this track are great, a great singer (Pendulum said in their Knowledge article that the woman is a singer for a local band). This track swirls about you marvellously, some arpeggioed synths blend into the track in the background during the choruses, synth string lines help texture up the track, and the signature Pendulum drums, mixed a bit more less crisply this time (in terms of the way they fit into the mix, there's less bite on them this time, more midrange than high, which (to me) helps take the dancefloor edge off the track, makes it feel more mellow almost. Tempo-wise it's pretty similar to all the others, I think they produce most if not all of their Drum & Bass tracks at the 174-176bpm mark.
What next... Ah yes:
We've reached the end of our Drum & Bass excursion for this album - immediately we know this is going to definitely be a 100% dancefloor Pendulum track, the bass is ugly (good ugly) and squelchy, with a broken beat taking us through the intro, instead of the usual even-beated perc of their other floor-orientated tracks. Atmospheric, semi-tech-industrial FX and pads phase and filter in well, with a couple of FX that sound Prodigy-inspired in both their sound and rhythmic pattern (hey, fine by me ).
I'd love to hear Swift double drop this track with some other ludicrously disgusting track.
The breakdown takes inspiration from the Prodigy again (someone's been listening to Liam Howlett inbetween producing). Back to the even-beated perc patterns, with those tweaked-to-perfection drums. We have a brass-sounding synth lead somewhere towards the middle of the soundscape and a suitably techy vocoded voice both during the buildup and the track.
In terms of overall feeling and production style, I'd say this is quite close to their recent Ed & Optical remix. They'd work well mixed (if your copy of Bacteria isn't split in half from the amount of times you've played it out). My first "what-if-collaboration" thought would be Pendulum and Noisia (60/40 influence split).
Production skills on a technical level are consistently high throughout the album, their setup I'd imagine is pretty tight by now, nothing is too out of place or prominent in the mix, things blend together well in the frequency spectrum and they have their own space whilst forming part of a consistent whole. I love taking a track and picking it apart bit by bit to understand how it's been put together, and the mindset of the producer(s), and I've definitely learnt things, ways to mixdown. I definitely cannot fault the guys on their technical level, it's nothing short of A standard.
Ok, that aside, time to tackle this breaks track.
Another slice of guitars here on the intro, some clean-sounding octaves and 8ths giving us some space to the intro, and some acoustic business towards the drop. We got synths doing their arpeggio thing too... That's pretty much the sum of the drop, the main part of the track is, again, those drums, their bass samples from Bacteria and some synths laid over some sine - it's a good breaks track, a more tech-orientated feel as to be expected, but it has quite an uplifting trance feel to the second breakdown and drop... It's well done overall, and it's good to see that they're willing (and able) to tackle other styles. I'm not a huge fan of breaks personally, I'll listen but it's Just Too Slow for me in general (I'll play breaks, but I'd find it hard not to pitch them up +35 after a bit).
Mirrored guitars lead us out of the track... Could work well either as an outro or an intro to a breaks mix.
Final thoughts... Mmmm, chocolate and beer.
Oh yeah, thoughts on the album... As I can only get 10,000 characters into one post, I've included those as the first comment. To see my summary and opinion of the album as a whole, click the Comments link for this article.