Review: Vax – BECquerel EP [GRD056]

Philadelphia bass monger Vax continues to develop his sound at 170 bpm in his ‘BECquerel EP’. Much like his previous release (Sleight / Embody) on Gradient Audio, Vax’s sound is airy and light, yet anchored by massive amounts of sub-bass. Vax tunes, regardless of tempo, always remind me of an American version of TMSV sans the exotic melodic sense. As I have said before, Vax has the potential to become a larger part of the East Coast dubstep scene due to strength of his dubstep tunes like ‘Blunt Weapon’ or ‘Archetype’. It seems, however, that Vax is testing himself as a producer and seeing what he can create at different tempos which shows a willingness to experiment and a desire not to stagnate in the constant cookie-cutter approach that some producers fall victim to.

First up is the title track ‘BECquerel’ which opens in mists of grey and green that circle and surround you much a like night-time fog does. As the ambient washes multiple and replicate themselves in the fashion of cells, a half-time sub emerges and gives ‘BECquerel’ a sense of momentum. Meanwhile, scuttling crab-like percussion enters the fray. Vax’s use of subtly shifting percussion allows the listener to become lost in the ephemera of multi-hued clouds of differing orange, pink and red shades. Suddenly a lone siren’s call is heard, drawing us closer to the monoliths anchored into the sea. More voices join to form a choir as the percussive elements peel away. It resumes as quickly as it faded away, with Vax preforming studio magick – filtering elements of the ‘Amen break’ to ruff up the edges of an otherwise meditative roller. It’s a brilliant mid-set cool down track that’ll give the crowd a chance to get their hoods up and sway in time with the sub and meditate.

B1t Crunch3r’s remix of ‘BECquerel’ does away with the meditative bliss of the original in favour of a more direct approach. Favouring a pretty standard back-beat (IMO) B1t Crunch3r goes to work, turning the original inside out by splicing in guttural dark-side swipes to drive the rudebwoys into a frenzy as snatches of the ambient clouds seep in between the negative spaces of the backbeat. This one is guaranteed to get the floor moving and skanking.

Vax closes his ‘BECquerel EP’ with ‘Animalystic’. What sounds like a looped field recording blooms into being as light drumming from possibly a hang drum enters through the swelling turquoise synths. Much like ‘BECquerel’ before it, a half time bass detonates the soundfield. Halfway through, ‘Animalystic’ reduces itself to swollen sub pulses while a voice constitutes itself from the ambient hiss. Sonar blips crack the void in search of a lost lover. ‘Animalystic’ is drenched in a ‘heart on sleeve’ melodic sense is both beautiful and beautifully tragic at the same time. You will want to slip this in between all those Autonomic dnb tunes you love so much.

In closing, Vax’s ‘BECquerel EP’ is a fantastic EP that showcases Vax’s experimentation with D&B and the results are two stunningly gorgeous pieces of D&B and one floor wrecking remix that does the original justice. On a side note, I’d like to see how Vax does in producing a more aggressive D&B tune, just for curiosity’s sake. That being said, the tracks present in the EP will keep you drawing for them for months to come. Like I said before, Vax is one to watch! Keep you ear to the ground!

GRD056 is available from the official Gradient Audio Bandcamp.

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