State of Mind: Nil By Ear
By Jacob Connor
Stu Maxwell and Pat Hawkins serve up their third album of seamless drum’n’bass. Lead track Vega sounds like a Shapeshifter outtake – vocalist P. Digsss latches onto a phrase and won’t let go. Parasomnia is propelled by a cool Jan Hammer helicopter synth and finds vocalist Thomas Oliver in an anarchic mood. Return of the Prophet (featuring PNC) brings some sharp focus and a bouncy robotic groove. Suddenly the set is sounding a little reminiscent of Leftfield. A judiciously placed cowbell gives Novocain Dub a leg up and now I’m spasming along. Fucking Sellouts rides a rolling hard rock bassline and features an unlisted someone explaining music biz mechanics. Punk’d mixes a tricksy rhythm with disorienting effects – one for the end of the night when you don’t know how you’re getting home. A solid slab of sound then, with flashes of brilliance. Give guest vocalists too much rope and you risk assembling what sounds like a compilation album. State of Mind are clearly versed in the science of jackknifing bodies and they are extending their sonic palette. ‘Nil By Ear’ may not quite be their magnum opus, but will likely see them ascend to the top of the NZ d+b producer pile.