‘De-evolution Part III’ is a stunning conclusion to The Upbeats’ EP trilogy
The Upbeats are widely looked upon as cornerstones of modern bass music. Their caliber of production may not be as influential as that of Noisia, who have been able to single-handedly set trends and shape modern DnB with each passing album. Yet, The Upbeats have been at the forefront of the genre for over a decade, and show no signs of slowing their momentum. The Upbeats have released over 15 albums and EPs combined, with each one further cementing their status as one of the best acts bass music has to offer.
Each of The Upbeats albums has offered listeners a genial experience, and a fresh perspective on the scope of their genre – the hallmark of an act on top of its game. The group’s legendary collaboration with Noisia on the Dead Limit EP is still regarded by many to be the best DnB release of 2015.
The Upbeats’ latest work, the De-evolution series (part one of which was initially released in April 2016), has been one of the main talking points in DnB over the past year, due to its ingenuity. The three-part series has finally come to its conclusion as the final six pieces of the puzzle are released on Vision Recordings.
Each EP has had its own unique story, taking listeners on a sonic journey throughout the various sub-genres of DnB, from serene, calming liquid, to the mind-numbing neurofunk sounds they have helped pioneer throughout their illustrious careers.
While parts one and two of the series are straight out of The Upbeats’ vast musical playbook, De-evolution Part III deals mostly with a side of DnB not generally touched upon by the duo. Taking this factor into consideration, listening to the EP becomes a much more immersive and enjoyable experience. The songs on De-evolution Part III have split personalities – they can be looked upon simply as extremely well made DnB, but they also expose a much more fragile aspect. Close scrutiny reveals the finely balanced concoction of various sonic elements that define the collection.
Each song in this EP is an individual masterpiece, and the entire collection comfortably stands head and shoulders above any other DnB release this year. De-evolution Part III falls perfectly into place with its two previous iterations, resulting in one of the New Zealanders’ best works yet.
The EP starts off in typical Upbeats fashion with “Cauldron (Feat. Agressor Bunks).” The hard-hitting neurofunk single is a sensory assault, coercing listeners into a submissive trance. The track’s sawing bass, growling synths, and ferocious drums make “Cauldron” a perfect selection for hardcore head-banging that provides an ideal foundation for the rest of the EP.
The next song “Prism,” shares very little common stylistic ground with the aforementioned track. The energetic tempo of “Cauldron” is replaced with a thick, grimy tone in the second piece from the collection. Atmospheric vocals are scattered throughout “Prism,” which would be perfectly at home as a standalone Division recordings release. The impeccably designed bass growls, gurgles and splutters culminate in a fantastic tune, ably complemented by its subtler elements.
If the prior two tracks provided a launch pad for the EP, “Veiled” and “De-Evolution” easily take the release to another level. “Veiled”, as previously mentioned, is easily one of the group’s best liquid singles to date. Words can hardly do justice to the feeling this masterstroke arouses in listeners.
“De-evolution,” named after the series itself, is the undoubtedly the climax of the three part project. With the titular track, The Upbeats have gone all out to create a juggernaut that stands out above the rest of the songs on the EP. The song is a mix of two contrasting styles – the first being The Upbeats’ signature ferocity, and the second being a showcase of their capabilities to manipulate more refined, subtler elements. The two contrasting halves of the song signify the recent change in the duo’s production technique and serve as tipping points in both the EP and The Upbeats’ careers.
The songs at the tail-end of the EP lean heavily towards the new, ambient style which defines the secondary portion of its eponymous track. “A Place For You” barely classifies as a traditional DnB song. It transcends genres, typified by the serene vocals and ethereal chord progressions. The final song, “Streetlight” has a starkly minimalist vibe when compared to other songs on the EP – a fact that it embraces with lachrymose beauty. Each component of the track mourns the ending of this gorgeous series and the track passes on this gloom to listeners with outstanding ease.
The De-evolution series has been unsurprisingly brilliant. The marathon venture is a brief reflection of The Upbeats’ storied voyage through the music industry. De-evolution Part III is the perfect ending to this gargantuan project, undertaken by one of the staple acts of modern DnB. To fully appreciate the EP, it is imperative to look upon its insinuation, rather than just the music it encapsulates. The De-evolution series is groundbreaking, genre-defining and utterly spellbinding.