15 Dec 2018
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The Upbeats - EP Review: No Sleep 'Til Japan & Iceland

05 Oct 2018 // A review by Alex Moulton

No Sleep ‘Til Japan & Iceland is an EP that has been seven months in the making from kiwi Drum and Bass duo The Upbeats. Completed partly in thanks to a crowdfunding effort raising nearly £9,000 for international collaborations to occur. In what was meant to be a 4-track EP, has evolved into a 9-track near full-length album. More experimental and stripped back, this collection of collaborations displays a wide variety of stylings and emotive experiences as influences from international producers such as Noisia, Goth-Trad, DJ Kentaro, and Emperor, show the depth of the drum and bass genre.

The opening track Shibuya Pet Store (in collaboration with Noisia) was released earlier as a single and it the most eclectic track on the EP. Named after the major Japanese commercial business centre that contains two of the busiest railway stations in the world, that mixing of cultures and busy-ness comes through strongly with a rather idiosyncratic sample. While not quite as high pace as what is usually to be expected, unusual and unique, the underlying beat drives the track forward.

Two of the tracks off the EP result from collaborations with Goth-Trad, Long Shadows (which also credits Noisia and DJ Kentaro) and Out Of Sync, both in the slower side of the spectrum, combining symphonic soundscapes with a more industrial edge. More cinematic in approach, they are darker, grittier, and grungier, with a murky vibe that elicits imagery of both futuristic dystopias and 'Saw'-like thriller scenarios.

An prelude halfway through the EP is the only track that is compiled by The Upbeats independently and uses some slow building piano play to build towards Erosion, which features Culture Shock; a high-volume, high-intensity track with a surprisingly big sound created from minimal audio layers.

While variety is evident between producers that collaborated, there are even displays of difference between a single artists influences, especially in that of Emperor. With two tracks back to back, Hideaway is tranquil, emotive piece. Eerie, yet relaxed, the vibe comes off like roaming through the empty streets of an unknown city at night. This contrasts with the following track DUMDUM, which uses fast-paced stabbing synths and a surging bassline to merge a murky industrial foundation, with an organic flare.

No Sleep ‘Til Japan & Iceland is an intriguing mix that is bound to hold a mass appeal. Both experimental and enlightening, boundaries in the drum and bass genre are pushed, and create a dynamic combination of impassioned musical pieces.

Rating: ( 4 / 5 )
 

About The Upbeats

In today’s heady climate of bass-fuelled dance music it could easily be argued that producer-DJs are the new rock stars. Climbing into that mould with a pair of schoolboy grins on their faces, The Upbeats have already been playing that role for years. Their anything-goes live performances are renowned for mosh pits, topless dancers (sometimes women) and crowd surfing, while their approach to writing hard-hitting, unique-sounding drum & bass is lauded across the globe.

Nicknamed Terror Snake and Downie Wolf respectively, Jeremy and Dylan are not your average, boring producers. Meeting at school through mutual interests in surfing, skating and ‘being gangly teenagers’ Jeremy had to work hard to pull Dylan into the world of drum & bass. But, armed with a stack of Mickey Finn & Aphrodite mixtapes and an unrelenting attitude, the snake soon overcame the wolf’s natural propensity for rock music and, fortunately for us all, a love of fast breakbeats and low-slung basslines soon followed.

This love soon grew into a passion for creating their own music and by 2001 the pair were balls deep writing their own D&B. Fuelled by New Zealand’s isolation from the rest of the world and its staggering natural beauty, The Upbeats’ unique take on 170bpm+ bass music has seen the duo work alongside scene stalwarts such as Ed Rush & Optical, Bad Company, Hive, Gridlock, Bulletproof, TREi, State of Mind and Noisia while releasing tracks across a plethora of the D&B scene’s most respected record labels.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for The Upbeats

Releases

No Sleep 'Til Japan & Iceland
Year: 2018
Type: Album
SSXUB
Year: 2014
Type: EP
Primitive Technique
Year: 2013
Type: Album
Big Skeleton
Year: 2009
Type: Album
Buy Online @ Mightyape
Nobody's Out There
Year: 2007
Type: Album
Buy Online @ Mightyape
The Upbeats
Year: 2004
Type: Album
Buy Online @ Mightyape

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