War – Nas/Tabula Rasa
Words by Mat Taylor
When you call yourself War, you’ve set a certain tone before anybody has even heard your music. Before I heard anything by this outstanding French producer, I assumed it would be more of that really chunky, almost EDM flavoured brand of “hard” drum and bass that has been capturing the attentions of teens and early twenties gun finger blasters everywhere, but no, this is something quite different. Somewhere between the sonic, bass pressure experiments of Dillinjas work on Test and the relentless robot futurism of C4C, we discover War. Though he’s a relative newcomer, he’s already turning heads among the most discerning sections of underground Drum and Bass. Having already released music on C.I.A, Samurai, Dispatch and Commercial Suicide, the quality over quantity approach seems to be serving him extremely well.
This 3 tracker comes out on the pioneering Methlab recordings on Thursday 5th of April 2018 and as you might expect, its not for the fainthearted.
With weaponised sub bass that lives up to the producer’s name, this is an extremely hard hitting yet minimal track that will either cause you to void your bowels or cheer in absolute delight, possibly both at the same time. The bass is the star of the show here and the formidable crunch of that astonishingly low sounding sub dominates the whole track. There are little percussive intricacies that keep things moving along without feeling too repetitive but this is definitely designed for the dancefloor. Hard but minimal drum and bass like this will create a reaction wherever you play it. The simple, almost atonal sound isn’t made for you to listen to while getting all reflective, it’s been created to give you that indescribable feeling that makes you turn to the person next to you on the dance floor and simply say “fucking hell.” The first time I heard this tune it frightened and intrigued me like a good David Lynch film. I’ve been doing this a while now, so I don’t get to say that very often. Trust me on this, you need to hear this track.
Less aggressive sounding than Nas, Tabula Rasa is the kind of sinister stepper that could slide in between classic 90s tech step or some of the phenomenal new breaks driven stuff from Blocks and Escher. The bare essentials approach to production means that nothing sounds conspicuously loud or domineering so you could easily mix it with a range of different tracks. As a tune by itself, it lacks the violence and sense of immediacy of the other two pieces on this release, but as a tactical sonic segue, it will no doubt serve DJs extremely well.
Sticking with the bass driven formula, Acumen is another outstanding track that relies on the sheer force of that huge, powerful sub. There’s a sparse little techno bleep refrain that drifts in during the breakdown and occasionally augments the cheekbone rattling hum but War have obviously focused most of their attention on making tracks that genuinely push the capabilities of bass to another level. If you need to get the crowd’s attention or make an impression during a radio mix, this will certainly do it. Production standards keep getting better and music like this is definitely on the cutting edge. Whether or not your home speakers will be able to do this monstrosity justice remains to be seen, but if you hear this getting mixed in while you’re in the club, go and stand next to the rig, I dare you.