Undersound, who put on parties in London, have just released their second release on their record label arm, undersoundLAB. Following on from the success of their first release, featuring music from their residents and friends including Subsoil favourite Isherwood as well as d:Alog, Matt Joe and Harry McCanna, the second installment continues in much the same vein: it’s music that’s made to be mixed.
The tracks come in at an average of about 7 minutes long, so they’re perfect for a nice, long blend. Each of the artists pays a lot of attention to the elements of their respective track that many producers disregard all too often -I’m talking about layered percussion, faint samples in the background, those little tweaks that come in every few bars- all of which combine to create a track that stands up to repeated listens. It’s not enough to throw together a beat, a bassline and some chords and call it a banger and that’s something that Undersound’s roster of artists seem all too aware of.
There’s a real attention to detail that’s evident in the production. If you concentrate on listening to the release in full, you’ll realise just how much is going on all the time. If you’re not particularly concentrating, you’ll find yourself drawn into those loops, but without finding them boring.
I’m talking about the release as a whole, I’ll get a bit more specific in a minute, but I guess it’s a testament to Undersound’s curation of this release that the tracks can be spoken of both as a group and individually. They’ve got simultaneously an element of commonality and uniqueness to them, which in my mind makes a good release compared to a release with good tracks on it.
Track 1 comes courtesy of Harry McCanna. It’s got quite a bright vibe to it that’s really propagated through the synths. They don’t take centre stage however, that’s the role of the drums. The driving, layered beat keeps things moving and the occasional almost UKG style bass notes that come in provide a point of reference. Good quality drumwork features quite prominently on the tracks we’ve heard from Harry, and this one is no exception.
Track 2 is by DTG. This one’s all about airy synths and a beat that leads with hi-hats, but to reduce it to synths and hi-hats is a bit of an injustice. There’s a lot more to the melody of the track than just that soaring synth, and there’s a lot more to the beat than those shimmering hi-hats.
The release closes with a really strong offering by Lowpass. The skippy beat stretches the 4/4 template we all know and love and its jittery nature is complemented by the restlessness of the samples used in the track’s melody. Lowpass samples organic instruments but arranges them in an abstract sort of way; it’s hard to tell if they’re dissonant or harmonious sometimes. The same arrangement of musical notes isn’t repeated either, the samples go off in different directions over the track’s 7 minutes. As the instrumentation builds up into a bit of a crescendo, the beat fades momentarily before coming back in with more of a kick. A really well balanced track that rounds off the release very nicely.
undersoundLAB 002 is a great release and it’s available from their Bandcamp. Be fair and pay a fair price and maybe one day they’ll be pressing vinyl. It’s available in FLAC and it’s got great artwork if you need further encouragement!
You can also visit the Undersound Soundcloud. They run a really solid podcast series that’s worth checking out.