After a string of successful EPs on various labels as well as their own creation, In:flux Audio, Tik&Borrow have worked for 9 months on their debut album, drawing influence from a huge variety of music whilst maintaining their signature gritty style across 8 tracks.
Tik&Borrow kick off their LP in epic fashion with tension-fuelled, cinematic strings that rapidly build to a climax before dropping into facemelting Neuro style basses and immaculate drums. The glitchy percussion is very much on point, working in tandem with the sketchiness of the bass sounds, and also does a brilliant job of filling empty gaps along with ample amounts of reverb. As far as album openers go, this is a statement and a half – pure aggression on a huge scale, straight from the off. We’re slightly intimidated…
Come Selecta (ft Tengu)
Any thoughts of an early breather are dashed out the window the moment the weighty 4×4 kick of ‘Come Selecta’ starts up, as subtle drum rolls and dubby lasers sound off in the background and a stab teases ahead of the drop. The main bassline is chunky and chugs along in tandem with the drums, making this one a certified stomper and ready for the dance. The assortment of drum rolls is genuinely pleasing, and along with the staccato strings and brief flashes of brass, they add a natural feel and a more interesting texture when placed against the rigidity of the main sounds. Lets be honest too; anything Tengu touch is sick.
‘Wastelands’ starts by throwing back to the cinematic vibe already visited by the opening track, though this time it’s not as tense. The main bass sound struggles to contain itself as a sinister vocal sample builds to the drop, where the long drawn out strings are switched out for shrill staccato stabs. Though the bass is again on a Neuro tip, the drums are actually more aligned to Grime, skipping along with flourishes of hi hat and other (extremely well produced) percussive rolls and occasionally thinning out to build up and drop again. With elements constantly coming and going and patterns subtly switching up, the attention to detail is incredible.
If you need to catch your breath, the first 30 seconds of ‘Predicate’ is the time to do so, as an assortment of sounds from the East gently swell around stuttering claps and snares. The state of calm doesn’t last long however as the track lurches into a huge melting pot of UK Bass influences. Elements of Grime, Dubstep and Breaks are all present as ‘Predicate”s drums rattle forward over a steady bassline made of pulses, wobs and more drawn out, metallic notes. There’s another short reprieve during the breakdown, before once again being thrown into the blender of bass, drums and percussion.
Talking of blends of UK genres – ‘First Child’ actually starts on a far more positive vibe than every other tune on the release, with genius Sean Paul samples and a bright string riff. There’s percussion galore once again, wrapping around more grime drum patterns, with a snare that would sound right at home on a UKG banger. ‘First Child’ is more measured and precise than ‘Predicate’, though the patterns are still skippy and with Neuro basses appearing again alongside low end content that’s more modern Bassline inspired. There’s even a couple of synths that sporadically appear that put us in mind of Joker, adding melodic content and higher frequencies. With so much going on, the mix down for ‘First Child’ must have been a bitch, but it’s been executed brilliantly and the tune itself is incredibly versatile.
The closest thing to a 2step beat on the album, ‘0101’ is a monster. Long, guttural bass notes stretch themselves out as shorter, more metallic sounds duck and dive between the scattershot snares and an assortment of vocal chops. It’s like an audible warzone and energy is high from the start, with the intro clocking in at a rapid 28 seconds. Intensity gradually builds as more and more ideas are brought in, but ‘0101’ never actually seems over crowded – in fact there is still space for reverb tails to weave round each other – which only highlights again how good the duo’s mixing skills are.
If the hints of Dubstep so far hadn’t been enough for you then ‘Vision VIP’ is your tune. Chainsaw basses and rasping Reeses wrap themselves around the barrage of kick drums and shuffling hi hats. The typical, reverb smothered snares are also present and though the main sections of the track are dark and sinister (especially with samples of Heath Ledger’s Joker), the breakdowns are hugely contrasting – a gorgeous, angelic choir acts as a vivid shard of light. Another mad tune.
Rounding things off is ‘Warface’, which actually takes things down a notch in the form of another string-centric Grime cut. The atmospherics and vocals chops are especially eerie as a variety of bells and hats shuffle away amongst crisp claps (again with a healthy dose of reverb applied) and a well rounded kick and. The strings taking centre stage and the bassline takes the form of metallic wobbles and longer, sustained notes. ‘Warface’ is more concise and compact than the other tracks on the release, making it a perfect album closer, tying up all of the lose ends tidily whilst not losing any of the attitude or menace the previous 7 tunes have either.
Selecta’s Favourite Track: First Child
Overall Rating: 8/10
The way we see it, the point of an album is to put together a body of work that encompasses all of your influences whilst simultaneously being original and it all resulting in great music. Working to that brief Tik&Borrow have smashed it with ‘Neurality’ – they manage to reference all of the music they love, including Grime, UKG, Bassline, Drum and Bass and Dubstep, across 8 high quality tracks. The attention to detail is brilliant and we can only imagine how frustrating some of the mixdown sessions must have been. If releasing your debut album isn’t a daunting prospect enough, imagine doing it as the founders of a label that prides itself on releasing diverse, hugely creative, authentic music. If these guys were feeling the pressure, we don’t think it’s shown; they’ve definitely delivered with this LP and if our recent interview is anything to go by, it’s likely this won’t be their last album project.
You can buy Tik&Borrow – ‘Neurality’ here.