Cutworks – Soulroot EP
Zheleznodorozhny – it’s a city near Moscow you heathen – has been on the literary map since 1877 when it featured in Anna Karenina (Tolstoy fans give me some signal), and now drum & bass wizard Cutworks is giving musical cartographers a hard time as they plot his hometown on the underground map of Eastern Europe.
Already a big name in Russia, due in no small part to his residency at legendary Moscow d&b night Steppin Sessions, Cutworks has proven himself a dab hand at crafting slick liquid, with releases on Soundtrax Records, Fokuz Recordings, Drone Audio, Camino Blue and Kos.Mos.Music. His latest effort – the expansive Soulroot EP – goes out on NexGen Music and has already been making ripples on SoundCloud, where it was first touted as the Last Days On Venus EP before undergoing a slight reshuffle for its official release in early April.
Away With You taps into that timeless liquid formula of understated rolling drums, delicate notes falling from a piano and a ton of bassweight. Hats sparkle up high, but the track isn’t without its moments of shade as pads swell up for brief excursions into the minor key and bursts of falling feedback bring something of an edge to proceedings.
The title track is an infectious cut of jazz-infused liquid, the cleanest beat on the record gelling with an uncomplicated bass to form a silky-smooth foundation for the intricate instrumentation led by piano and woodwind. Cutworks’ soulful 170 workout eases into the sunshine state of mind with integrity, wearing Break and Calibre influences on its sleeve.
Halfway through the EP, everything changes – Last Days on Venus is a step through the looking-glass, out of d&b territory entirely and into a mesmerising nine-minute slice of downtempo. Pads swirl and bass undulates to create a spacy musical odyssey which lives up to its name but may seem slightly incongruous, even though it was specifically requested by Dan at NexGen. Judged as a standalone track it is absolutely fascinating.
Algorithm bumps the tempo back up but loses the liquid gloss in favour of buzzsaw synths which duck and dive with prowling regularity over rounded sub-frequency pulses. A melancholy oriental vocal adds another dimension to a track which is spikier than its predecessors but still meticulously-crafted, picking up pace and power as it develops.
Cutworks’ Soulroot EP is as fresh as it is comfortingly familiar – buy here.