Donor Lens - Desire Path
May 6, 2022
The UK bass sound is devilishly flexible. On the one hand, agility can be instilled in the drums and bass, with adrenaline-fuelled vocal or synth parts providing fun and engaging hooks. It can provide the perfect inspiration for an exciting dance session. However, it can also be used to illustrate dystopian worlds and dark cityscapes when the right tools are utilised. This is a sound commonly referred to as future garage. These movements all seek to immerse the listener, and so artists have begun to employ characteristics from all of them in order to set a scene. This cross-section is where we find Still Here EP, a 5-track excursion from Static Angel.
Crush begins the EP, clattering drum samples peeling off across a desolate landscape. Emotive vocal samples swirling around the aether of some dark city. Static Angel pulls us into the rhythm with a defiant kick drum and snare combination. The sound created sweeps with so much grandeur, fizzling synth notes lighting up the mix like rain-stricken neon. Vocals switch suddenly from ghostly and sustained to stuttering and glitchy. Things dip in the middle, euphoric pads swirling around untethered. The beat is brought back in with an ominous breath.
Intoxicated creeps in with with a more straightforward synth melody. Shards of drum begin to build up a head of steam, crashing forward from deep within the mix. As they begin to surge, so too does the leaping bass. Static Angel slips so seamlessly into a vocal refrain, the voice simply another instrument to utilise. Its rapid delivery causing the melody to burst forward before any word can be made out or comprehended. Each kick is strategically placed to drive the track forward, that piston-like energy found in drum and bass music. The vocals are like the fragments of a pop song, sprayed out from huge speakers over a dense and dark city.
Tell You leans heavily on an r&b sound before bursting into an ATB style slow beat and scattered synth. This huge synth sound gives it a euphoric, heartfelt feeling, the chattering beat hunkering it down to the floor. Proving a mastery over the wash of sound, Static Angel sweeps everything up around the minute and 20 second mark. So many artists can engineer a large sound like this, but it is painfully obvious they are not in control of it. But here we witness the grand music swiped up and then immediately scattered once again.
The floor begins to shake as the bass of さびしい rises to the surface. Arpeggiated synths float upwards with it, moving once again seamlessly into a controlled, heavy rhythm. The placement of vocals on the project as a whole is so commendable. In this particular track, the voice bleeds through like a hologram of a love song, seeping through between the small cracks in the synth and bass. It then dances gracefully with choral notes sung with a lovelorn elegance.
With a more laboured beat, Day Zero closes things. Enormous synths droop and rise like sirens blaring through streets. This slower tempo allows for the lyrics to be draped over the instrumental, the emotion all the more tangible as we hear every little trill. And just when the listener feels as though the EP will end on a more calm and loose note, Static Angel turns the speed up gradually and blasts us into a heavy drum and bass rhythm. Vocals slip through in juddered blips, metallic snares clatter off of the lower end. We transition into a marching rhythm, the sound of metal on metal. More glitched vocals as the listener is taken down one last wormhole.
It feels as though the setting of that futuristic scene is fairly innate to Static Angel. The neon synth sounds, the fiery industrial percussion. The artist conveys those characteristics of atmospheric d&b or garage music naturally. But what is really impressive is the sheer musicality of it. The project is more than just an interesting pastiche of purple-tinged futurism, it is a deeply enjoyable and well-made collection of tracks.