When it comes to British electronic dance music, Jason Greenhalgh and Paul Smith are sensei in the game. The pair, better known as the synonymous Total Science, has been making music since the early days when electronica was merely creeping out of the woodwork. Relentless producers: aside from four studio albums, the number of singles and EPs Total Science has released is too much to count. On 5 November they return with a unique compilation album on their label CIA Recordings titled ‘Tuned In 2,‘ and it is set to be big.
‘Tuned In 2‘ is the sophomore to the seminal compilation ‘Tuned In,’ which was released in 2001. Ideal for those with a weakness for quality drum and bass, ‘Tuned In 2’ is a binary time machine at 170BPM. Through its twelve collaborating artists, this album both transports us back to the dawn of drum and bass and propels us into a new era.
On paper, throwing this many different artists together is a risk. Indeed, ‘Tuned In 2’ is diverse to the point that it could sound mismatched; it spans the whole rainbow of drum and bass, from primitive minimalism to bass-heavy chaos. That said, CIA has triumphed; each tune speaks for itself and yet jells with the next. Undoubtedly Calibre’s performance on ‘Clipper Man’ is a must-hear. Calibre turns his back on gaudy frills and the simplicity is striking. Twice the track reaches a break and fades unnervingly into complete silence. An impish chime bubbles to the surface and as soon as you think the song has ended, the percussive riff returns with even greater vigour.
In the fourth track, Q Project teams up with 8 Bits (the duo of Carlos Lima, a.k.a S.P.Y, and Total Science’s Paul Smith) and takes no prisoners. The result: a punchy and disarmingly frenetic piece of jump up that promises to bring clubs ablaze. Likewise, in ‘Going in Circles’ Total Science serves us a jazzy piece of electronica that is roughened up by a quick fire of raw drumming. The leaden synths are as jagged as nails; Break has put his notorious edgy stamp in the remix. This is neatly balanced by Lenzman’s remix of the track ‘Past Lives.’ Kevin King’s understated vocals float exquisitely on the light twinkling instrumental: a pure piece of liquid funk.
We take our hats off to the fact that ‘Tuned In 2’ does not only feature old favourites, but is a catwalk for big names of the future. For example, the French-born producer and MC, Proktah, uses ethereal vocal synths that conjur up images of Celine Dion upon the Titanic. Treble drums rain over like silk, dropping into a murky tussle between the grunting subs. To create something as hard-hitting and yet so angelic,Proktah has shown he is one to look out for.
Indeed, some might argue that today Briton’s music scene is dominated by individual track releases, and full-length albums can often be secondary. Nonetheless, ‘Tuned In 2’ is a wholesome project, celebrating undiluted drum and bass across twelve tracks. Total Science qualified their cutting-edge approach to reincarnating old-skool drum and bass saying: “Trends and fashions come and go within all the dance music genres but even after all this time there is still an underlying straight up timeless Drum & Bass sound & quality we feel & can’t be ignored which needs to be pushed forward and presented as a collection.” Timeless it is; C.I.A has produced a little gem.
Release date: 19 November 2012 (12 track CD & mp3 release and 6 track vinyl release)
Sinistarr + Grimm