Sach O gets mad when people talk about “Canadian” electronic music – as if the whole country’s supposed to sound the same.
Had Egyptrixx’s Toronto origins not been prominently advertised in interviews, I’d have probably assumed that he was yet another UK producer on the come-up given Bible Eyes’ funky foundation and sense of space. Additional listens however, reveal substantial DNA from the Canadian metropolis: it’s sleek, sophisticated, impressive and occasionally a bit cold and seemingly in love with itself. Or maybe that’s just me being a hater. I am from Montreal.
In any case, it’s also one of the finer full-lengths to emerge out of Bass music’s wildly spiraling continuum this year, working equally as a headphone zone-out and as next-level material for adventurous DJs exploring the intersections of Dubstep, UKFunky, Grime and more traditional House and Techno spheres. The aptly named “Start from the Beginning’s” cavernous echo and sets the mood and showcases Bible Eyes’ impeccable sound-construction – probably the album’s greatest strength, as Egyptrixx constantly finds ways to twist dance music templates into engagingly off-kilter variations. The title track’s seasick house for example, wins on the basis of its icy synth and muggy ambiance fighting it out for control of the track. “Liberation Front” and “Recital A” act as the album’s other feature-length attractions: extended exercises in EDM repetition that threaten to overstay their welcome but never do thanks to finely tuned progressions and explosive senses of release. If nothing else, these tunes have me excited to catch the man’s live set, which I’m sort of kicking myself for missing so far.
The rest of Bible Eyes is composed of shorter, more easily digestible pieces, which wisely allows for some experimentation and stretching out. “Rook’s Theme” is the standout with reverb cranked to 11, tech-precise 808s and a broken, buzzing bassline coming together to form something altogether special. Similarly, “Fuji Club” and “Barely” pile on dub-tech paranoia into the realm of oversaturation, layering sounds until the bursting point. It all comes together to form a remarkably consistent album, one fit to represent the burgeoning Night Slugs camp’s worldwide scope and global influences. On the other hand, Bible Eyes is occasionally easier to admire than love: all of those icy synth tones and 4-on-the-floor beats form admirable electronic constructions, but things often feel a bit reigned in and proper, lacking the delirious abandon and emotion of UKBass at its finest. The staid tech-house rhythms are a particular sore spot, as the steady pulse feels a bit dated in light of subsequent rhythmic developments. Ditto for the dubious synth-pop ambitions (Chrystalis Records) best left to the last decade.
Minor quibbles aside, it’s another resounding success for Egyptrixx and Night Slugs, whose meteoric rise from underground party promoters to bleeding-edge tastemakers shows no sign of abating. Though it’s occasionally easier to like than love on a track by track basis, Bible Eyes’ best moments creep up when you aren’t paying attention: after 128 bars have drilled themselves into your head and you’ve locked into the groove mechanically rather than intellectually. In this sense, it lands closer to classic techno (always big in T.O) than anything UK – trance music before the word meant something dirty. In any case, it offers a strong foundation for Egyptrixx going forward, proposing a strong musical identity without yet tying him down to a specific direction.
MP3: Egyptrixx – “Rooks Theme” (128 kbps)