As news breaks of live music and clubs potentially returning this summer, Break gives us a reminder of what we’re missing. This 12-track album released on his own label, Symmetry Recordings, is an exciting revisit to previous ‘works in progress’ dating back to 2003.
Dusty Demos comes from a time when tracks were made using outboard equipment and a mixing desk. Computers and dial-up connections weren’t up to the job back then but the analogue equipment came with its practical limitations. A demo of the track would be recorded at the end of each day since the music desk would be changed for the next track, and sometimes these ended up being the finished product.
For whatever reason, these tracks never made it on to release, but having dated each track, we get a look into Break’s production journey. To all the purists out there – fear not, the 2020 touch-up of each track is subtly mastered to preserve the analogue sound.
The analogue production throughout strings all 12 tracks together, despite being a compilation album. This is particularly unexpected given that the timeline of this ensemble spans over a decade from 2003 to 2012, yet it undoubtedly gives a warm connected sound of a whole album piece.
Listening to this album feels like a dreamy ride through one of the most interesting periods of the genre, where many of those flying the drum & bass flag today cut their teeth – a timeless flashback to a forgotten world (the author doesn’t apologise for the irony here).
Track by track you can hear how Break developed his distinctive style of original percussion and composition, everyone knows a Break track when it comes on. The pounding percussion of Less Is More (2003), which brings through sounds of 90s slow stepper tracks is contrasted by the high-octane Himself (2012), with its distorted synths that harks back to 2010’s rise of neurofunk.
Between these bookend tracks, we have the jungle flavours of Legna (2005) and the hotly anticipated floor-tearer Bongo Fire (2007) (both being personal favourites). Knowing Break’s high-output reputation, expect more to come from the Bristol-heavyweight later this year.
We can’t promise when clubs will open, but we can guarantee these tracks aren’t going out of date.