Review: Distance – Outer Limits EP [CHST030]

Chestplate label boss Distance rings in 2014 with a bang, dropping four club quaking tracks in his characteristic style that no one can touch. Distance has been quiet as of recently and it’s a welcome return since his last offering back in May 2013 (Set You Free / Gorilla Force) and it’s the first piece of Chestplate wax since September 2013! CHST030 also finds Distance pushing his sound into different tempos and rhythmic structures that allow his uniquely heavy, yet melodic artistic voice to blossom and not be constrained to dubstep rhythmic schematics.

‘Broken Dawn’ is one of the older dubs on here, surfacing in the earlier part of 2013. Built around rudebwoy subs that have almost bouncing quality, as digitalized drums break a few bones in the process. However, the highlight is those mystical, fractured synth lines that are both life-affirming and melancholic all at once. They evoke certain chromesynesthetic qualities – flecks and horizontal lines of silver and blue with lavender arcs circling in hyperbolic and elliptic arcs, until they dissolve as a amber hued pad builds towards a breathtaking vista were clouds become metallic and the ground underneath your feet becomes water. A dread-inducing siren pulses out of dubspace which opens ‘Andromeda’. Distance puts his singular “open this pit up” style of mid-range riffage through the paces while hollow snares snap with police brutality – like a baton against a forearm. In between the riffs, soaring Vangelis styled pads end all subjectivity and merge us with the Absolute. Everything empties itself in front you astral body as we reach the origin point of the Universe. We can see the powerful play that is life – all that exists and will exists and all that has existed prior.

Along with ‘Broken Dawn’, ‘Untouchable’ is another dub that finally sees the light of day. An ominous voice (Bane from Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises for the sample hunters) speaks of the light and the dark, while filtered and fragmented shards of mid-range growls and spectral melodies evaporate and reconstitute themselves, only to disappear just as quickly, filling in the negative space and dark matter that is ‘Untouchable’. Built upon 808 bass detonations, hi-hat trills indicative of Trap, and Distance’s various inter-splicing of alternating percussive accents really make ‘Untouchable’ a certified dance wrecker. Distance save the best and freshest beat for last in the form of ‘System Reset’. Distance crafts a spine-tingling D&B roller in the vein of Autonomic. Heavily reliant on skulking bass swerves and quicksilver flecks of 808 percussion, ‘System Reset’ indulges Distance’s “heart-on-sleeve” melodic washes and shimmers that bloom into heart-stirring panoramas that evoke rain-drenched neon world cities at night. It’s beautiful stuff – the perfect soundtrack for the cyberpunk neo-noir film that’s playing in you’re head. Additionally, it’s great to see and hear Distance branching out and tailoring his sound towards a different tempo besides 140.

In summation, Chestplate welcomes 2014 with open arms in the form of CHST030. Not only does Distance crack open the dub vault, but graces us with a unique and impressive exercise in form that isn’t usually seen in the Chestplate camp. Hopefully, we will hear more tunes likes ‘System Reset’ in the future not only from Distance himself but the rest of the Chestplate crew as well.

CHST030 is released March 10th and available from Bleep and Juno Download.

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