22 Jun 2021
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The Upbeats - EP Review: No Sleep 'Til... New Zealand

17 Jan 2020 // A review by Jamie Denton

Wellington-based drum and bass duo, The Upbeats, have been steadily carving out a place for themselves in the dance music scene both in Aotearoa New Zealand and overseas. Perhaps because of the increased international gigs coming their way, The Upbeats, in what I assume is a generous and potentially cheeky nod to the Beastie Boys, launched their No Sleep ‘Til… E.P. series with their No Sleep ‘Til… Japan and Iceland EP in 2018. That EP involved collaborations with artists Noisia, Goth-Trad, DJ Kentaro, Emperor and Culture Shock.

Now, in 2020, it’s our own little slice of heaven getting its own No Sleep ‘Til… entry with No Sleep ‘Til… New Zealand. Featuring scene legends Shapeshifter on three of the four tracks, and the always impressive Tiki Taane paired with fresh-talent Workforce on the fourth, this EP aims to capture the sensation, sounds, and inspirations found at home. And this will feel close to many kiwi’s hearts and speak to their own lived experiences within Aotearoa.

Dripping with the sensations of the kiwi summer, resplendent with sweaty, music festivals and chilled out outdoor shows, No Sleep ‘Til… New Zealand is a fascinating combination of the best of all of these artists. Breakneck beats, emotive synths, massive bass, and stunning vocals dominate this collection of four bangers, which effortlessly commands the listeners attention. This is not background music, instead this fights itself to the foreground where it demands to be turned up loud and actively listened to. I can testify that, in my experience, the louder it’s played, the better!

My personal favourite track, the instrumental Nautilus, is a beautiful display of The Upbeats’ mastery of building tension with little release. Its careful combination of elements makes for a deep, immersive soundscape experience. Brief pauses are employed throughout to incredible effect, reigniting the energy in the track frequently. Nautilus plays with listener expectations wonderfully, maintaining intrigue throughout.

Collaborations can often feel strange, like one collaborator’s voice was louder or style was stronger and literally just pulled the other party along with them. However, this is not the case here. No Sleep ‘Til… New Zealand is cohesive, pulling the best from all collaborators in what feels like the true creation of something new, something that couldn’t exist without everyone involved. Very cool!

Rating: ( 5 / 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 New Zealand
Year: 2020
Type: EP
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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