Ritual: Dub Skies / Send For The New Gun [ INNAR013 ]

Ritual’s been a staple for the Sydney Drum & Bass scene for time. He’s pretty much part of the furniture. When a fresh-faced Slice (Inna Riddim co-founder) arrived in Sydney back in 2003 the first port of call for the junglist DJ was The Record Store – a firm establishment across the time continuum, congregating vinyl aficionados and the one-stop hub for all scene info. Comfortably nestled behind the counter was Ritual; the vinyl pusher by day and ambassador for Drum & Bass in Sydney by night.

His career in sound selection spans close to two decades: from seminal Green & Jazzy days alongside scene stalwarts Q45 & Kid Kenobi, all the way through to his most notable and long-standing partnership with fellow junglists A.L.F. for Rollers Music and Spikey Tee. If you ask anybody who was raving in Sydney to DNB back in the late 90s and early 2000s, Ritual is the name that’s indented on every flyer. Contemporising his style for the new Bass generation with 808-aplomb through his Tape2Tape alter ego, it can only grow under the shadow of his legacy as Ritual. So it’s only fitting, and with great honour, that we first commission two of his finest and timeless cuts from Drum & Bass’ heyday to our growing catalogue, as our Drum & Bass output is reverie to those formative years and relished with great fondness, just as this release is.

Amid today’s enormous volume of disposable tunes, exciting for a couple of weeks and then forgotten, ‘Dub Skies‘ is a gem in the slag heap: it’s a keeper, the kind of track you’ll still be playing years down the line, one that’s situated in the longue durée, not the bandwagon of the month. Part of the reason for that is its simultaneous evocation of several layers of electronic musical history: the warm, expansive synths that open the tune and on which it coasts forward, enfold the listener even as they open up a sense of vast space, reaching back beyond the beginnings of drum&bass, before jungle, even before rave, to the early synth pioneers; while the drums, a chopped break overlaid by funky, staccato percussion, are infused with the rolling power of late-90s drum&bass heyday; but the crisp production values are totally contemporary, and the overall effect is timeless. Push up your lighter!

Send for the New Gun‘ demands manoeuvres on the dancefloor to match its militancy, from the the taut, snapping snare to the rattling, irresistibly body-shaking tom roll. Reverb-drenched soundsystem FX and classic soundboy vocal samples set the tone: it’s a battlefield out there, subs descending like lobbed mortar shells, while the dancehall laser cuts through like a sniper. The anarchic energy at the heart of this tune remains in tension with the tight control that prevents its contrapuntal elements from spinning it into chaos. That tension is what gives it its irrepressible vitality and its atmosphere of stealth and danger, as the drums beat like rain on the window of a taxi speeding down city streets at 3am. Proper bruckout biz.

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