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CD Feature/ DJ Hidden: "Later After"

img  Tobias

DJ Hidden is one of the pioneers of the genre know known as Drum n Bass, but he has never stood still, neither resting on his laurels nor revelling in nostalgia. Part of this may be explained by the fact that his music has always had an idiosyncratic touch, first seeing the light in the isolated surroundings of a small Dutch town, unexposed to the bright lights of the big city. The other half of the story may be down to his natural interest in various artistic forms of expression, such as design and layout (the entire digipack to “Later After” carries his handwriting), infusing him with fresh inspiration from different trades. But most of all, it has to do with the man himself and his creed that no external expectations or supposed borders should interfere with his creative process.

A further proof of that philosophy, this album yet again demonstrates that reducing his image to mind-spinning breakbeats and sinister effects is not just a foolish simplification, but plain wrong. Of course, they are still there, especially in the last third of “Later After”, which is drenched in strobe light and the pitch-black darkness of an empty scrap yard after midnight. Here, hardly anything comes between these stretched-out sizzling combustions, electric charges and deep-red sparks flying through the air, percussion runs spinning round their own axes and unforeseable changes in the rhythmic pattern creating that incomparable stuttering stop-and-go-flow. On “Backwards Reversal”, bass-lines are charged like giant power poles, while the track runs as mad as a bunch of drunken sprinters chased by anti-doping officers on choppers. To reach this climax, however, Hidden explores all of the subtle nuances his style has to offer. In the opening pieces, he brings Drum n Bass back to its less obvious roots and influences – HipHop and the Funk of 70s Cop movies, instead of the usual references to reggae, dub and hardcore – before getting all smootchy and entering a land of warm summernights, tender evening breezes and fireflies joyously humming in the air. Well, something like that anyway, as the deep kick drum poundings never really stop, but suddenly find themselves submerged in dreamy synthesizer pads, soothing vinly crackling, endless hallways of bass reverb and arrangements of interlocking melodic motives – such as on the bipolar “Chrono” with its harmonic bleeps and razorsharp edges.

The diversity of the individual pieces are certainly an important aspect of “Later After”, but what probably matters even more is that this ecclecticism is never an end in itself. Instead, the inner tension of the album creates a dark drive and a sense of epic poetry, which generate a grand, cinematic feeling without any orchestral samples. You can of course enjoy programmed sections and outtakes, but there is a carefully constructed bigger arch which binds the music together and takes it away from the usual vocabulary of the genre. Regardless of his achievments for the promotion of Drum n Bass and its establishment as a serious and respected style, DJ Hidden has long left the limitations set up by narrow-minded hardliners behind.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: DJ Hidden
Homepage: DJ Hidden at MySpace
Homepage: Ad Noiseam Records
Homepage: Ad Noiseam Records at MySpace

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