DFRNT – Fading

‘Fading’ is DFRNT’s full length album coming after his EP ‘All Change’ that came out earlier this year. I’ve had to listen to this album over and over in order to realise how crafted and detailed it is. Also, it is looong, several 7-8 minute tracks and an 11 min romp. Luckily it’s very enjoyable.

‘Silent Witness’ is 8 minutes and drops you right in the deep end with a light and progressive array of sounds alongside the occasional feature of hydraulics and machinery. It’s an ambient track that is immediately followed by ‘El Spirito’ which has a strong house beat with looped vocal textures and a clarinet, or possibly oboe that later develops into an ambient house-scape. The vocal feature is excellent and is supported by shimmering digital textures. The vocal features across this album are well chosen and well crafted never feeling arbitrary or superfluous.  ‘Everyone is moving’ is one of the longer tracks coming in a t 7 mins but it is a subtle, sleepy, fragile track with a distant a trumpet feature; brass instruments do enter often on this album either obviously or hidden deep in the mix. It’s Lovely track overall.

In addition to the vocal work, DFRNT’s key and synth features are very distinctive. Every track has them on, they are nearly always reverbed and quite static but it is a nice rendering for the album as a whole, bringing it together. To return to the vocal features though,  the vocals on ‘That’s interesting’ vocal features are worth mentioning because they are ambitious. So often vocal samples, especially when they’re looped, can be clichéd  but the bass and depth of sounds make this work. I like the myriad of light, airy sounds and textures that DFRNT puts in here. The bass end is complimented by a nice hollow wood block hit. Soulful vocals that eventually lead into a bigger beat, mostly closed hats and the same soulful vocal feature gets looped. I like it a lot when producers break up their own samples across a track.

‘Deep Into It’  has gentle keys and a house beat. African drums also feature which are a little done but not to the detriment of the track overall. A brief free section leads to a drop with a good bass line and almost R&B sounds. These tracks evolve though, something new is always around the corner such as the  garage type vocals that turn up in here.  There are these colourings and gentle touches from a range of genres and these get pulled into the depths. This isn’t necessarily dramatic music, there are no high extremes, this is more a micro analysis of techno’s components which makes the label ‘deep techo’ well applied to DFRNT.

The longest track ‘Prism’ is where a listener could be expected to get fatigued; by now the reverbed synths are quite familiar yet this was not the case; the synths and key tones develop really nicely to produce a close atmosphere.  This then draws in some varied percussion like fingers snapping and more dub sounds but extends into a low thud bass and a shimmering range of tones. Prism draws out some of DFRNTS masterful bass work in fact making this a much darker track than what has come before although it is balanced with a melodic, modulated wash of textures in the background.

‘Cruise’ is another change in direction with a splashy beat, sharp key tones and more jazz influences in the form of piano features. Some crisp lower beats that echo and higher snare hits that make a tight beat pattern, this would be an excellent live track. ‘Incubus’, has another vocal feature. A change in atmosphere and pace. A tripping beat with jams blocks, claps. Same key techniques but some hints at bass wobbles that jar across the song. This is more dubby in general and there are some great rough bass melodies that smooth out as the track continues. Some lighter keys returning too though. Impressive composition on this track, there is a lot going on it you really concentrate on the different components.

Towards the end of the album there is an overall move towards greater bass.’In You Go’  has a moody descending,swooping bass line. This is paired with my favourite vocal feature on the whole album that are soulful and with a beautiful timbre. Yet, this feels darker and heavier than previous tracks. It is more experimental. (I love the vocal feature!). DFRNT has a good sense of high and low, there is always a wide spectrum of sounds and this is easily apparent throughout, but on these later tracks it is pushed a bit further.

‘Our Little Secret’ keeps things moody and subtle but again there is a sonorous powerful bass line, again almost a wobble that pulls everything together, everything being vocals and a solid drum beat that propels the track as the bass line expands and contracts. I like this track a lot – again it’d be good live, but it does feel out of place on this album for its tempo and noisier feel.

This album is a strong album, but the long tracks were too long at times. Prism for example, too long albeit a strong track. However, it is still a brilliant deep, experimental techno album; the ways DFRNT nods to so many electronic and previous genres is impressive.

Yeah, its good.  More ‘milk and cream with the hot chocolate’.

Fading came out on September 3rd on Echodub records. Listen to his soundcloud here: http://www.soundcloud.com/dfrnt .

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