Sub Focus gets catchy and cosmic with ‘Torus’ [Album Review]
Acclaimed UK producer Sub Focus has been releasing music since 2003, yet prior to yesterday, had only one album to his name: his 2009 self-titled debut. While his first release made waves in the drum ‘n’ bass world with such iconic tracks as “Splash” and “Timewarp,” Sub Focus has returned four years later with Torus, the crowning achievement of his career and an album that will stand as one of the biggest releases of 2013.
A ‘torus’ refers to a surface of revolution in geometry when a circle is rotated about its coplanar axis to create a ring shape. While we can speculate as to the many implications of the album’s name, to keep it simple, let’s just say that Nick Douwma has revolutionized his sound. With a total of 13 diverse tracks (17 on the Deluxe Edition), Douwma has crafted a grand release that is both dreamy and groovy, and most of all, utterly enthralling.
Torus begins with an extended celestial intro. An ominous radio transmission reports a strange ring-shaped object (presumably a torus) on the horizon, paving the way for momentous build up. The album’s opening track culminates in a powerful midtempo drop, as Sub Focus immediately extinguishes all doubt over Torus‘s perceived lack of heftier productions.
As the album progresses, Douwma displays a keen ability to produce numerous genres outside drum ‘n’ bass and dubstep. “Close,” for instance, channels pure UK garage vibes, with MNEK on vocals and a deep and funky bassline. “Out of Reach” is essentially an indie-dance tune with plenty of tropical overtones courtesy of some steel drums and mallets. “Turn Back Time,” though less compelling than the rest of the album, is Sub Focus’s take on a festival house track.
Close feat. MNEK
While Douwma experiments with a variety of styles on Torus, his characteristically clean drum ‘n’ bass is certainly not lacking. Aside from the previously released “Out the Blue,” Torus boasts some incredible liquid drum ‘n’ bass tracks like “Safe and Sound” and ” You Make It Better,” featuring fellow producers TC and Culture Shock. The deluxe version of the album also features standout drum ‘n’ bass track “Eclipse,” arguably one of the top songs on the album.
Torus is dominated by lyrically-driven originals, with nearly every track featuring a prominent vocalist. From Foxes to Alpines to Alex Clare, Sub Focus recruited no shortage of top-tier singing talent. This consciously human approach to the album provides a greater emotional draw, ultimately pushing Torus into the a traditional album space. It also has the effect of making the album feel more pop-centric, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, just a different artist direction. While traditionalists will certainly disparage Douwma for this new approach, Sub Focus’s artistic prowess is as evident as ever: the quality of the album is absolutely undeniable.
Tidal Wave feat. Alpines
In the same way that 2 redefined Netsky as a versatile artist, Torus has revitalized Sub Focus as a multi-dimensional producer, capable of furnishing a variety of genres and styles. From midtempo, to house and garage, to dubstep, to drumstep, to jungle with “Original” from the deluxe edition, Torus encapsulates a huge portion of the dance music stratosphere. Ultimately (and fortunately), however, the best of Torus resides in its drum ‘n’ bass. While the tracks may not be as dark as the old Sub Focus, they’re certainly as brilliant. With Torus, Sub Focus has unquestionably elevated himself into the top tier of modern producers, gracing the dance music world with one of the best albums of the year.
Both the original and Deluxe Edition of Torus are available on iTunes (though we highly suggest you opt for the latter, which boasts four more tracks).