The Upbeats: Nobody's Out There
By Jacob Connor
Drum n’ bass upstarts Jeremy Glen and Dylan Jones present a fantastical journey with their second album, soundtracking a Neil Gaiman-esque quest through a dreamlike fairytale world. The story is laid out in an illustrated booklet which, while it won’t be winning any literary prizes, is elegantly presented. Fortunately, you don’t have to follow the story to enjoy the music. Both disc and booklet build slowly, but Craven Raven comes alive with stuttered dynamics and the title track introduces an ethereal sense of dislocation. Grains schizophrenically pursues otherworldliness with echo, reverb effects and woozy synth strings. Girl Gone marries acoustic guitar thrumming and folky vocals with undulating square wave bass and dry drum patterns. If anything lets the experiment down it’s the over-familiar beats underpinning a few tracks (Will Shatner, Tilling Fields). The soundscape titillates most when untethered from genre constraints. Often this means losing the beat and focusing on the synthesis - orchestral pad sweeps invoke the spirit of Vangelis (and Goldie’s warped ‘Saturn Returnz’ set). Black Swarm digs a deep percussive trough, and the CD culminates in The Stars, a trance-like dirge with a giddy-up rhythm. Even if the concept is better than the execution, ‘Nobody’s Out There’ is a bold move and a strong collection likely to extend The Upbeats’ global reach.