The promising young Ukrainian known as NickBee returns with the four track Animal Rage EP released this week on Jade’s Eat Brain label. Having garnered lots of attention over the past few years with releases across Invisible Recordings, Dispatch, Bad Taste, and more, NickBee proves again why he’s one of neurofunk’s most exciting up-and-comers.
Upon listening to the of the first track of the Animal Rage EP – “Apollo 18,” I could tell this entire record was going to take a brand new approach to NickBee’s usual flavor of Drum and Bass. Greeted with an orchestra of uplifting musical elements that build into a simple cowbell loop and a repeated retro synth pattern, the intro then moves into airy vocals, a rising pad and a very smooth/oscillating synth rider. The main percussion loop of “Apollo 18” filters in and reveals itself as a very tight package that will soon become a synonymous vibe that’s prevalent trough the entirety of the Animal Rage EP.
After a breakdown of the above elements, NickBee’s tight drums and heavy bassline kick in a very punchy and dynamic way; presenting and delivering “Apollo 18” in a way that’s unlike standard neurofunk tunes. Right away the desire to play “Apollo 18” on a very loud sound system gripped a hold of me. The synth work on this track is subtle and groovy; extending outwards periodically to really emphasize the rolling sub that drives and carries the track. The beautiful wobble and pad returns to drift us into the breakdown before dropping for the second time. In short, the musical elements of “Apollo 18” compliment the dirty bassline so well, that it provides me with a trance-like vibe that plays very well in a festival or at home environment. Safe to say “Apollo 18” has been receiving heavy rotation around my house.
The title track of the EP – “Animal Rage” starts off with a reverberated bass guitar and cinematic pad that builds into a simple percussion loop. Focusing on a more minimal vibe, we are still met with a very cinematic presentation including large, reverberated horns and ethnic vocal samples which clear into a grimey drop. The vibe of “Animal Rage” is very tribal, ethnic, and energy-raising; allowing you to breath as a listener without losing your attention.
The flipside to the Animal Rage EP opens with the much darker edge of “Gain the Energy.” With a repeated and heavily reverberated synth “alarm” riding over a dark and very diminished sounding percussion pattern, the track gives off a very eerie and cavernous vibe. After the intro dissipates into leftover air from the reverberation of the original elements, the drop of “Gain the Energy” rolls in with crisp, minimal drums and a tightly packaged bassline that I hadn’t been expecting. Driving “Gain the Energy” forward, the synth line returns with an Egyptian scale melody to add some musicality to the track while maintaining its dark and moody vibe.
The final installment of the Animal Rage EP is a collaboration effort with JSTD. Providing a refreshing change of pace to the rest of the EP, NickBee and JSTD maintain the dark edge and familiar synth work to the previous tracks on the Animal Rage EP, but with a unique flavour. “Blackline” is dark house music with a breakbeat feel to the bassline. The heavy & morphing bassline of “Blackline” is complimented with a dark-harmonic synth to emphasize the upbeats; making this a dark, rolling house track that has enough energy to keep you dancing.
Overall, NickBee’s efforts on the Animal Rage EP deem a recommended listen. I have a great appreciation for the balance of uplifting & beautiful music that compliments the rolling and dark basslines that really drive the Animal Rage EP. I, like many, truly believe that NickBee is an evolving talent within the drum and bass world, and he is definitely an artist you need to keep your eye on for future releases.
Words By: THuuN