It’s almost 2 years since SOBAD’s Distro was last seen on Brighton’s 877 Recordings, and it’s exciting to see 2 entirely uncompromising forces link up again on the ‘Tectonic’ EP.
The title track starts of in a sinister fashion with dread-filled chords and a filtering riff. As soon as the drums kick in, we instantly start feeling tribal; a feeling that is only helped by the pan flute-sounding main riff. Brass stabs add to the tension in the build up, as bass tones start to reveal themselves, before one of the tastiest pre-drop fills we’ve heard this year – massive reverse hits before a low cut break, accentuating just how heavy the sub on the drop is. The bass thumps away with the main kick drum, as the rest of the percussion finds space in the gaps. After a brief reprieve, Distro brings in a UK Funky section, working the bass harder, and using an alternative riff. Things smoothly wind down into a breadown before the second drop which is like the first drop on steroids, achieved by a new vocal sample and changing up the drum pattern slightly. Simple, but devastating. The UK Funky section then returns again before heading towards the outro. There’s a load of clever subtleties within Tectonic, from the reverbs and use of filtering, to the drum programming and balance between melodic and bass content. Our favourite however is the use of a vocal cut effectively as a hi hat, which upholds the human, tribal vibe to ‘Tectonic’. As far as EP openers go, this is epic.
The second track of the release really highlights Distro’s skills as a producer full stop. An incredibly convincing trap segment starts things off, which fully made us think something else entirely different to this EP had somehow started playing. The eery high pitched melodies sound sick against the weighty kicks, and Distro has got his hi hat triplets on lock. The vocal is simple but catchy and there is a twinge of UK Bass, as a high passed, metallic bass lurks in the background, before things suddenly switch into a more UK underground affair. The kicks quicken, and the trap snares become fills, losing their place to concise claps. The main drop consists of the metallic bass over the hefty sub, a helter skelter synth and vocal chops, with an incredibly satisfying ‘Ah’ sample. Seamlessly, we’re returned to the trap part, before everything runs through again. The drums do the bulk of the work on ‘Rap Money’, clearly defining the sections and show off Distro’s mixdown ability as key features of one portion become background percussion on the next, and vice versa. Is this the first every Trap x UK Funky tune? (we’d genuinely love to know, email us)
The final track on the release is ‘Bad Hood’, which opens in a much more reserved manner than the previous two. As swelling pads sigh up and down and atmospheric noises echo and reverb in the background, we literally had no idea the direction the track would take, right up until the drums came in. Even then, the rolling military snares don’t give too much away with a soft riff and string stabs providing the only musicality. Quickly, everything drops out to be replaced by the huge kick drum/sub combo, stuttering chants, and flashes of metallic basses. The percussion is unbelievably crisp, with every single click and impact sounding gorgeous – so good that we had to pull it up just to appreciate it all again. The rolling, ‘clacking’ hi-hat is a beaut and the panned, 3 hit drum fill is an absolute joy. Vocals chop and change as sections progress, both adding and easing up on the energy where appropriate. After breaking down, the military snares return, but you can tell something is different this time; rather than fading away, they remain, as dropping for the second time, ‘Bad Hood’ becomes a 4 to the floor carnival banger, helped out by a brief but genius whistle addition. ‘Bad Hood’ is another perfect example of Distro’s versatility, fusing a heap of influences into a UK Bass monster.
Selecta’s favourite track: Bad Hood
Overall Rating – 9/10
Distro has always shown versatility in his music but his ‘Tectonic’ EP is genuinely something else. To be able to take so many influences and melt them down into 3 tracks is an immense effort, and is only complimented by the attention to detail shown in the production. Every single sound on all 3 tunes has a role and plays it perfectly; nothing has been used just to fill a gap. We can’t think of a label more suitable for ‘Tectonic’ either, as it maintains and even builds on standards set by label mates such as Squane and Hypho – big up 877 because their quality control is clearly on point, whilst still releasing diverse music. We can only hope now that there is plenty more music from Distro on the way.