Spectrasoul ‘Delay No More’ - Review FeaturedWritten by Veronica Stratford-Tuke
Brighton-sprung Jack Stevens and Dave Kennett, aka Spectrasoul, have been cementing their footprint in the drum and bass scene since 2006, and are now at the true core of the Shogun Audio brickwork. Despite their dense discography of singles and EPs, the aptly titled ‘Delay No More’ (not to be confused with the Cantonese insult) is their first full-length album.
Album previews announced a noticeably more eclectic range of styles than we are used to from the duo; Spectrasoul have largely strayed from their signature 170 BPM and experimented with a mix of garage, deep house and dubstep tempos. ‘Away With Me’ pulses in with a conventional 4/4 house beat, enveloped by Tamara Blessa’s almost a capella vocal line. Venturing into house territory is blasphemy to some hardcore drum and bass fans, but we take our hat off to Spectrasoul for taking the risk. The boys qualify their move away from drum and bass saying, “We were adamant that we should push ourselves to try new things and explore new territory.” The track is minimal and echoing synths give a haunting edge to Blessa’s driving lyrics, ‘Everything, Everything, Everything.’ The staccato melody should in theory collide messily with the repetitive house beat, but it instead slots in with charming cohesion. The magic of it: Spectrasoul has crossed genres but stuck to their notorious technique of seamlessly marrying the soulful to the grimy, the light to the dark. It will be interesting to see how the different genres in the album influence Spectrasoul’s sets.
Nevertheless, fans pining after scatty hi-hats and raw tribal bass lines from the days of Alibi, The Four Points and Lost Disciple shouldn’t be disappointed. ‘Memento,’ ‘In For a Penny’ and ‘Sometimes We Lie’ are pure, wholesome liquid drum and bass. All three tracks truly ooze serenity, and jazzy melodies fly on the wings of the light syncopated treble. Indeed, the sound isn’t as edgy as most of Spectrasoul’s previous material and the vocal samples give birth to a catchy and, dare we say it, ‘poppy,’ verse-chorus-verse layout. However, the production is far more subdued than mainstream pop. The boys have said the structure was intentional, as “drum and bass really lends itself to that format.”
It’s fair to say that a mixed-style album guided by vocals rather than melodies was not what a lot of us expected. Having said that, what Spectrasoul lose in grit they certainly make up for in eclecticism. What’s more, such experimentation has given us a 13 long track list whereby each tune has its own identity, whilst still fitting into the dark minimal and soulful liquid mould that earned Spectrasoul their reputation. ‘Delay No More’ is a dazzling cross-genre soundscape, and six years down the line it is worth the wait.
‘Delay No More’ is released on 23 June. There will also be a digital deluxe edition available featuring extra tracks and remixes by Calibre and Kito.