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Finally in Focus
on 15 October 2009
And so it is that finally after 4 years of number one singles in the UK Dance Chart and countless collaborations on some hugely successful tracks Sub Focus, aka Nick Douwma, releases his debut self titled record. "Now let the story begin."
The opening track starts like a D'n'B overture with unfolding sweeps of synths and orchestral fanfares, before the drums drive in for the first time leaving you in the midst of pounding and exciting bit of drum and bass. This is precise piece of Pendulum-esque that stands above and beyond the comparison, and serves as a fine opening to the album. `World of Hurt' then continues in a similar vein swelling ominously at the start. The perfectly mixed vocals lead the track beautifully into the wonderful sounds of a strong drum track and strange chainsaw like samples combined with exciting stabs of synth. `Follow the Light' is filled with energy that bounces along wonderfully before a Faithless like moment of quiet that leads back into the delirium of the main track via more well mixed vocals. The track also makes good use of what sounds distinctly like a cowbell.
The mood then changes slightly. `Last Jungle' starts in ominous fashion with quietly echoing female vocals with ghostly piano lines that echo into the background beautifully. It feels slightly like the calm before the storm. `Deep Space' then is a surprise because it doesn't fall into the predictable trap of following quiet with loud. It continues the echoing calm of the previous track sending piano lines off into space and never quite holding a build long enough for it to become ecstatic. It therefore serves to emphasise the impending storm which `Rock It' has no trouble in breaking. This is the first track of the album that truly steps away from the drum and bass formula instead throwing itself head long into the realms of Daft Punk. It actually appears to sample `Robot Rock' but for once this is no bad thing. The track is energetic and exciting with aggressive bass stabs and mesmerising synths. It feels in fact like the long lost brother to one of Daft Punk's master strokes.
Incredibly though this phenomenal high is not the only one on the album, `Move Higher' and `Vapourise' are also worthy contenders. The former has a dub feel to it with what can only be described as elastic bass lines and a persistent drum track. The later has an opening filled with energy and anticipation that slowly rises into pure D'n'B with big drum hits and consistently exciting intensity. To follow this `Splash' is the first moment on the album that feels relatively subdued though the relative calm that it produces as a result is welcome at this stage in the album. `Could This be Real' follows suite with a widescreen opening that wonders at the genius that has preceded it and then joins in the fun with a bouncy piano line and energetic vocals, that descend into another one of those elastic bass lines.
To close out the album you then have three tracks that start with the brutal drive of `Triple X'. Living up to its name this turns out to be a brilliantly dirty track worthy of any drum and bass club. `Timewarp' starts with the echoing vocals like those heard earlier on `Deep Space' though this time the sound is contained rather than echoing. It focuses the intensity of the track into another healthy slice of D'n'B. To finish the whole thing off then Sub Focus produces `Coming Close'. This is like an ethereal moment of clarity at the end of all the intensity. It is kind of like that feeling when you come out of a club at 6am in the morning and the bass lines of the last night are still ringing strong in your ears.
So after all the years of people waiting for Sub Focus to release his debut and the acclaim that has built up around him we are rewarded with a master stroke. This is diverse, ecstatic and enthralling.