Well, MethLab has certainly given the bass music world a stumper with this one. Audeka’s much hyped and much anticipated new EP is due out in full on February 1, and it’s definitely not anything anyone will expect starting with the trio itself.
While much of the Engine Block EP is very much in MethLab’s wheelhouse, being heavily syncopated with grindy, machine-like synths and embellishments, the first surprise is that Audeka are from the U.S.. This may explain the next surprising thing on engine block: the single “Dark Energy.” It’s a collab with Rawtekk, with whom the trio have worked before. The track, however, is not neurofunk. It’s not darkstep or halftime or any kind of modern bass music one can name; it’s breaks.
This is why the fact that Audeka are from the U.S. factors in here. While many producers with MethLab and other labels have been experimenting with different beat formats (see: Akov sneaking a techno/house track onto his last Eatbrain release), it makes sense that a U.S. production team might more readily embrace, as the format was born here. That’s not to say many UK and European producers don’t also dabble; Teddy Killerz have expressed their love of breakbeat, and Jimmy Mofo of the Beat Assassins misses the days when breaks came over the pond from Florida and Detroit to the UK in 2007. To put breakbeat on a MethLab release in 2017, however, seems like it could only be pulled off by Americans. It takes a native understanding of the form, and Audeka definitely have it.
“Dark Energy” starts off, per its namesake, quite dark and very aligned with the theme of Engine Block, which was clearly the workings of the combustion engine. Because of its solid 130-ish breakbeat drumline, however, the first few minutes of the nine-minute track sound almost like an industrial song rather than bass music. There’s a kick that comes in at about minute two, however, that makes the track decidedly breakbeat. At around three minutes, the song then takes a hugely unexpected turn and, with that kick still in place and virtually nothin else from the beginning, it morphs into a much more ravey, almost progressive breaks track with female vocals and everything. It becomes fully progressive breaks after that until about 6:23, where another long, ambient break leaves the listener wondering what the hell could possibly be next. The answer? Three full minutes of ambient, space-like noise. It borders on experimental at that point. Noodle-scratcher doesn’t even begin to cover it by the end of this track.
It would be interesting to pick Audeka’s brains about “Dark Energy,” as it’s not only very different from most releases on MethLab, but it’s different from the trio’s own style and even from the rest of the songs on Engine Block. Its respective parts are even different from each other on this nine-minute song, so it would be really interesting to find out what Audeka and Rawtekk were thinking with this one. That said, it all somehow works, especially if you like dark, progressive breaks with a twist of ambient experimental. It’s a stunner, but good luck mixing “Dark Energy” at a club.
Audeka’s full Engine Block EP releases on MethLab on February 1, with previews on the label’s Soundcloud in the meantime. Check the MethLab website for buy links and hold on tight for some of the craziest beats, breaks or otherwise, on this release.