I was five years old when the 90’s ended. I missed the high days of certain genres: old skool dnb, juke, garage and footwork. These days, when tracks are aiming to revive those sounds, they always seem too digital and inorganic. They miss the shifty, compressed layer of limitations that the hardware and software of those times had. In those days you had to calculate, memorize and above all, try a lot of different things. Sinistarr, however, manages to maintain those 90’s vibes. I don’t know if it’s because he uses hardware of that era, or he’s just really focused on keeping that sound alive, but he does it, and he does it well. Mixing one of his tunes in with an Omni Trio, Renegade or Dead Dredd* doesn’t make it feel out of place. Sinistarr does add energy that makes his 160Bpm feel modern and energetic, and on “Swinging Flavors #6” aka “55555” it’s no different.
55555’s opening makes me smile. A happy melody, played Flautando (get your Italian musical terms straight, it enlightens your musical experience), is joined by dissonant rave-stabs, an old skool jungle horn (not the annoying one), and nicely chopped, slightly hoarse, female vocals. Bright bleeps introduce us to the main lick, which shines in simplicity. As soon as the vocals come back in, they are joined by some very recognisable 808 toms. They never disappoint, but I haven’t heard them so jumbly in a while. They sound slippery, you’re dropping them mid-air and catching them, ad infinitum. The opening’s sounds rejoin and make for a happy, albeit slightly melancholic fulfillment of the track. Special attention to the ‘simple’ drum fill that happens every eight bars, starting from the fourth after the drop. It’s not too much in your face, but gives opportunity for mixing other tracks at every point you desire.
Now, Philip D. Kick, Om Unit‘s footwork moniker, also took a spin with this track. His work makes the track lose a bit of it’s 90’s vibe, but while doing that, it.. um.. modernizes it? It’s difficult to explain without putting words with a taste of value behind it. The essence of the track is very well maintained. This is really a remix. It’s a different interpretation of the same building blocks. The way Mr. Kick treats his drums is a recognisable, and unmistakably genuine one. Of the two tracks the original is the more unique sounding, not because I’ve heard it first, but because his musical choices seem like they’re carrying the track. With Philip D. Kick’s remix it feels like it’s the other way around.
The digital bonus track, “Clear Your Mind”, is a very nice, uplifting tune that runs at 170Bpm. The opening of the track makes me think of clouds, smoothly drifting in front of a pinkish sky. The strangely timed arpeggio pulled me out when it first came in, but after a few listens it didn’t bother me anymore. Completely contrasting vibes when it hits though, deep and oldskool, a bit less mellow than the opening. The way Sinistarr gets back to the opening theme is with a crunchy noise, and I think that’s the only way to get these soundscapes to combine.
* Ten points if you can guess how I got into oldskool drum & bass