Review: Vampire Records – Identity Switch
Lesser-spotted d&b label Vampire Records has been doing its thing behind the scenes in the genre since 2006, under the watchful eye of head honcho Phil Source, one of the best in the business!
As one half of seminal production duo Source Direct, he was responsible for churning out bangers in the 1990s, like ‘Secret Liaison’. Unsurprisingly, then, Vampire Records holds the old school close to its heart, a heart which is worn on the sleeve of latest LP ‘Identity Switch’, the label’s fourth full-length release.
The old-school jungle-inspired bass sounds are present and correct, but the crop of talented producers with whom Phil has surrounded himself are all about propelling them to the cutting edge, not living in the past. One of the record’s standout tracks – ‘That Flow’ by Konfront.Audio and Lockee – demonstrates the old-meets-new vibes perfectly, a blissed-out bassline lifted straight out of the ‘90s gaining a sense of menace thanks to the ripples of growling synths.
Remnants of the old school permeate Scale’s ‘Designer Drug’, where the amen break gets a strenuous workout alongside a rasping sub-bass, and None Decay’s frighteningly sparse ‘Nukem’; it may be buried low in the sub or amongst the skittering drums, but a doff of the cap to the originators is there. And those originators that are featured don’t put a foot wrong, Phil getting his hands dirty with ‘Me and Whiskey’, and DJ Trax providing the glorious ‘Who’s Your Connection?’.
Elsewhere things get heavier without losing focus, as demonstrated by opening track ‘Motives’ by Canadian producer Nusense. Bringing taste and restraint to neuro-tinged synths, the track is full of energy and is all the better for keeping the sonic carnage under control. Like a pit-bull on a leash the threat is always there, and when it barks it shakes you to the core. This makes for a thrilling listening experience, which is also the order of the day on Concealed Identity’s ‘Shadow Warrior’. But the real sucker punches come from half-time battering rams like ‘Deep Cover Operation’ by H.Shiratori, who straps the listener to a jet engine with only intricate percussion to hold onto.
The Manchester sounds of Dub Phizix are splattered across ‘Stitch’ by Nultiply, whose tortured pads duel with a taught, urgent snare, while Heavy1 takes these vibes to Mars with the ring-mod chaos of ‘Bastet’ – whether the envelope needs to be pushed this far is up for debate. For sheer sonic madness ‘Mental’ by Skru more than lives up to its name, unholy reversed synths clambering around mangled drum loops and distorted samples to make like Burial’s evil cousin.
The variety on this LP is deeply impressive, as throwbacks to the ‘90s rub shoulders with futuristic sound-bending, and there is even time to fit in a couple of credible 140bpm bangers in the shape of ‘Grimey Dub’ by Level and ‘Impulse’ by Voodocoder.
If Vampire Records isn’t on your radar you might want to retune it, because ‘Identity Switch’ floats like a butterfly and kicks like a mule.
Set for release on December 15 across all good digital outlets – make sure you head down to the album launch party at The Clinic @ The Picadilly Institute in W1! More info by clicking the image below –
Full Tracklist –
- Nusense – Motives
- Konfront Audio and Lockee – That Flow
- Scale – Inner Resistance
- H. Shiratori – Deep Cover Operation
- Heavy1 – Bastet
- Level – Grimy Dub
- Phil Source and Strago feat Marishka – Me and Whisky
- Scale – Designer Drug
- Physics – Better Place
- SoulStructure and Tim Cant – Senses
- Deeper Connection – Expand
- Inztance – He Knows Me
- Concealed Identity – Shadow Warrior
- Mindstorm – Deception Point
- None Decay – Nukem
- Skru – Samurai Slice
- Kyam – Wave Goodbye
- Nultiply – Stitch
- Kolectiv – Seventh Son
- Physics – Annihilation
- Nusense – Water Wings
- None Decay – Terrapin
- Concealed Identity – E.D.B
- DJ Trax – Who’s Your Connection
- Voodocoder feat Monika – Impulse
- Skru – Mental