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Instra:mental – Resolution 653 review

Al Bleek and Damon Drama, better known to us as iconoclastic genre-defying duo Instra:mental, first appeared early in 2000 with a collaborative release on Source Direct’s offshoot Demonic. The pair have since gone on to become something of a tour de force in the underground electronic music scene, with releases on Darkestral, Exit, Semantica and their own labels NonPlus and Autonomic (which they co-run with dBridge). They have been attributed with reinvigorating D&B from the roots by borrowing from house, techno, electro, IDM and electronica, slowing it down to create that half time, deep, minimalist Autonomic style (almost a sub-genre in itself, some might say). Now, though, Instra:mental seem to have abandoned D&B altogether in favour of tempos hovering between the 110-140bpm range and Resolution 653 showcases this in a magnificent twelve track opus.

The album starts with the broken arpeggiated sounds of “Sun Rec”. Previously released as a 12” on Semantica last November alongside “Love Arp”, it is a sparkling and incendiary track which segues nicely into “User”, with its menacing muttering lyrics, spaced out atmospherics and thumping drum kicks. Strangely robotic but beautifully bouncy, upbeat electro stomper “8” shakes things up before we are plunged into the calming, blissed out haven of “Waterfalls” and back again to the glitchy, ADHD riddled beats of aptly named track “Aggro Acid”, which reminds us of a bizarre melange of Hud Mo, Arp 101 and Ramdanaman.

“Thomp” encapsulates the eclectic range of Instra:mental’s reference points, beginning as a dubbed out Mala style venture before swiftly developing into a funked up, head-nodding 4/4 fest. “Plok” is another quirky cut, sandwiched between the taught, twitching beats of “Talking Mono” and superb stand out track “Delta Zone (Advance)”, which is rather reminiscent of “Voyeur” – Instra:mental’s acclaimed and much rinsed release on Skream’s Disfigured Dubz. Closing track “Memory Implant” sees a flick back to the established sounds of “Waterfalls”, with whispers, echoes, the sounds of rushing water and an air of mystique that permeates through Resolution 653 as whole. Without wanting to sound too earnestly like part of the hype machine, this really is quite superb – a culmination of Instra:mental’s success to date and an example of electronic music at its best. That is all.

Belinda Rowse