Review: Current Value – Subs9.5 (Subsistenz)

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Germany-based Current Value aka Tim Eliot is a tear-out producer from the majority of drum and bass artists. His sound is dark, dirty and more technical than a lot of artists, which leans more towards breaking genre than to pack dancefloors. He had has an impressive 92 production credits to his name since debuting the Current Value project in 1997, including eight other full-length albums.

His latest EP – Subs9.5 – is promoted by label Subsistanz to offer more in the way of Jump Up styles for the general audience, rather than flat-out technoid styles. I haven’t really listened to Current Value for a while, but I seem to recall his last drumstep-oriented release Stay On This Planet was a lot more accessible to a standard listener than this one.

Subs9.5 would still be considered “Jump Up” in that this release is something that could be utilised by darker and harder drum and bass DJs, but I wouldn’t really consider it something within the actual Jump Up definition. It still carries itself as a technoid release in bringing a psychopathic pace that is only for those who like it fast and furious.

‘Term’ comes in like a hurricane, unrelentingly blazing away at a faster pace than most drum and bass with distorted metallic basstone grinding over the top of a pounding line of percussion, . ‘Circuitry’ continues the mechanical intensity that does deliver more on the Jump Up tip this time around, which is assisted this time by the beats playing more with melody structure.

Melodies in the tracks are off-set by an eerie synthetic melodies and bleeps that create a futuristic dystopian feel that we’ve come to expect out of the darker drum and bass sub-genres like neurofunk and technoid.

‘Alpha Key’ to me is a real stand out on this EP, combining sinister monophonic resonances with a whirring syncopation of sound jutting over a more standard – at least by Current Value standards – percussive onslaught, to create a dark dirge that will smash your brain out.

‘Xray’ is an intricate pallette of machine-gun layers of arpeggiated melodies layered over more simple synths, mid-range basslines, and wailing descending chords which carry Current Value’s dark intensity to its objective conculsion as an overall sound.

This is more what I like to hear Current Value deliver. However, something has been sucked out of what attracted me to this artist in the first place, perhaps in whim of him trying to be more of a dancefloor artist. I mean, I’d still rate him fairly highly for his effort here except I’ve heard better out of him.

Last track ‘Hit The Stretch’ was a bit disappointing for me, in that some of the Current Value depth is lost in preference to a more generic percussive pacing. This doesn’t sound as natural as his straight-up apocalyptic earlier hardcore releases. However, I’m aware that this is a give-and-take affair, and perhaps it was time for Current Value to try and make his sound more accessable to a broader audience.

Subs9.5 plays more successfully than Stay On This Planet by sticking with drum and bass, and packs heat within the more formulated drum and bass sound. However I listen to Current Value more for his merits as a truely unique artist, and here he is less than unique.

3 out of 5 Haarp Strings.

Written by Kristian Hatton.

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