Now that he’s done a few releases on his flagship imprint, DARKMTTR Records and they’ve all been such institutions (six of his top ten tracks on Beatport are now DARKMATTR tunes), it’s weird to think S.P.Y started the label just a year ago. Similarly, it’s a bit of a trip that the subgenre-straddling D&B legend’s upcoming EP With You, due out this Friday, July 1, is only the second EP since the label’s inception. This phenomenon is partially because there have been so many releases, almost exclusively by S.P.Y, in the last 14 months, but sort of like S.P.Y himself when he burst onto the scene in 2009, DARKMTTR feels like it’s always been there because we probably needed it all along.
Thus is also the case on With You, where each track fills a hole drum & bass didn’t know it had. It’s sort of the modus operandi for S.P.Y’s writing style, really; those beats just scratch an itch, and the beats on With You are no exception. The minimal, chill, yet perfectly executed snap of each snare on the EP hits home in a way only S.P.Y can. But don’t think there are no surprises on this EP; as fans will soon see, we should expect the unexpected with this one.
With You‘s title track released as a teaser last week and is already a surprise in itself with its vocal melody and ravey, almost liquid synth patterns. It’s still got that heavy underwater vibe to its sub synths, however, so fans shouldn’t think they won’t be getting any sine wave bass on this EP. In fact it only gets heavier and deeper with “Event Horizon,” whose sub synths sound like a whole-ass submarine was shot into a black hole. Closing track “Wheels of Steel” is another unexpected twist, a near-neuro glitch blaster that flirts with experimentalism but is grounded in old school samples. It puts a heavy, jaw clenching period on the end of the With You sentence.
We’ve got one more track on With You to talk about, and that’s our YEDM premiere today, “Life Is Just a Game.” A crucial tie-in piece which makes all the surprises and genre-swapping of this EP come together, listeners might wonder if S.P.Y’s decided to bring back foghorn with this track. While if anyone could do that it would be S.P.Y, upon listening a bit closer, the sine waves of this particular synth are actually miles away from foghorn. Sharp, metallic and more of a slash than a sweep of sine, these mid-to-sub synths sound more like someone running a machete along the rusty walls of the afore-mentioned spaghettified submarine. Talk about sonic imagery: “Life Is Just a Game” lives up to its name by bringing dystopia to an EP that started off so hopeful, “With You.”
All the tracks on With You stand out as original S.P.Y pieces, which means they’re instant classics, but it seems he also really wanted an emotional journey to take place in the audience for this EP. Grounded in the warmth of those perfectly placed beats, the EP goes from the reassurance of a loved one to chaotic events to an observation of futility and back home to the reassurance only music can bring. And if you don’t want to contemplate all that, you can simply get lost in the feeling of the dance. S.P.Y always gives us a choice, and that’s another reason why his work, even the new stuff, is always so timeless.
With You drops Friday, July 1st on DARKMTTR Records. Click here to pre-order or pre-save on multiple platforms.
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