Iím not nearly any sort of Ďbass-headí by any stretch of the imagination, but State of Mind have proven to me once again why I rate them as one of my favourite New Zealand groups. Their new album Nil By Ear is up there with one of the best drum and bass albums to come out of New Zealand, and when youíre among such talent as Shapeshifter and Six60, thatís a pretty impressive accomplishment.
I saw State of Mind quite a few times over the summer, and there was one song in particular that I was hoping like heck would be on this album, and lo and behold, it was the opening track. The track is called Vega and features the unparalleled vocals of Shapeshifterís P.Digsss. Without gushing too much, the song is amazing. And surprisingly, sounds just as good coming through my car stereo as it did live at the Coroglen Tavern with the aid of alcohol and hundreds of other kids. So weíre off to a good start.
Putting your best foot forward on an album can sometimes prove to be its downfall, but Nil By Ear is strong enough to carry the epic first track. Other highlights on the album include Three Dimensions feat. Sacha Vee and Fucking Sellouts.Three Dimensions proves that State of Mind know how to mix lyrics with their instrumental style beautifully; Sacha Veeís voice is ethereal against the rousing backing track. Fucking Sellouts brings some humour to the album, using a spoken-word sample that mocks the concept of musically selling out (at least I hope thatís what itís doing).
In addition to P.Digsss, there are a few other pretty impressive artists featuring on the album. The fifth track, Return of the Prophet is a rap-based, hectic tune featuring PNC. I still canít decide if I like this collaboration or not. It has a very Chemical Brothers feel to it, but the rap seems forced and out of place. In contrast to the P.Digsss cameo, this is probably my least favourite track. But perhaps it just pushes the envelope a little bit too far for my taste.
All in all, itís a solid third album. I donít think I prefer it over their second album Faster Than Light, but perhaps thatís just because thereís more experimentation on Nil By Ear, and taking risks like that is hugely important for any artist. It is a slightly different sound, but it is generally good-different. Iím of the opinion that electronic acts are always so much stronger when you see them live, so whenever artists can manage to capture that magic in an album, Iím always impressed Ė and State of Mind have done it with Nil By Ear.
Words by Kate McCarten
Founded in 2004, State of Mind is the Drum and Bass duo from New Zealand of Patrick Hawkins and Stu Maxwell
Initially signed to Total Science's CIA label in 2004, the State of Mind discography has rapidly expanded to include labels such as, Teebee's Subtitles Records, Futurebounds Viper label, Doc Scotts 31 Records, Simon Bassline Smiths Technique Recordings, Bad Company, Obsessions, and more. There are of course more works soon to be released on many other labels. Watch this space.
However 2007 is the year that the lads have decided to launch their own record label, SOM MUSIC. Representative of their own unique sound, the label is looking like 'one to watch'. Collaborations and remixes by the likes of Black Sun Empire, Chris Su, The Upbeats, Axiom and more are close on the horizon!