There’s been a big buildup for Fre4knc’s new Chapter 4 EP (mostly from yours truly), largely because the neurofunk and darkstep veteran took quite a big break in releasing, as we found out, to teach himself some new tricks in Cubase. Check out his technical thoughts on transitioning DAWs in Bassrush’s Q&A with Fre4knc here.
All Fre4knc’s research and experimentation definitely paid off in spades with Chapter 4, as the sound design is something that has not been seen before in drum and bass. That is not hyperbole; it seems Fre4knc has achieved what many producers have been searching for over the last year or two: he’s married the groove and steppy vibes of darkstep and techstep with the technically spotless sound design of modern neurofunk and halftime. The resulting reaction for both listeners and producers can be summed up as simply goosebumps. It’s that good; it shuts up all need to analyze all the crazy technique and expertise and goes instantly to an astounding physical reaction. This is dopamine and serotonin in sonic form. Get ready for all the hairs on your body to stand on end. It’s no wonder Noisia wanted to put out this EP on Invisible; they’d be nuts not to.
With six tracks, Chapter 4 could be seen as a mini-album. Each track is quite different from the one preceding it, so it’s quite difficult to pick highlights. They’re all highlights in their own right. Among the most impactful are the first two tracks, “Crustacean” and “Reliever,” the latter of which Rene La Vice understandably picked up for his BBC1 show last Monday. Click the player at the bottom of this article to hear “Crustacean.”
Another track fans will likely be interested in is a collab with Nickbee called “Recursive Function,” which Fre4knc just posted on his Soundcloud in full for free today. Of all the tracks on Chapter 4, this track most clearly highlights both Fre4knc and Nickbee’s roots in darkstep and techstep, bringing in a lot more ambient background sound than most neuro fans today are used to. This is done by what sounds like manually fading synths. The breaks are also quite minimal, again only really containing ambient sub bass or techy sounds with no buildup or clear breakdown. It’s a method and a sound that many older techstep and early neuro producers and fans may have thought was lost, souped up for modern ears with extremely clean yet subtle sound design. It’s a great example of what Fre4knc was able to accomplish on this EP, with Nickbee clearly happy to come along for the ride.
If other producers can crack and follow Fre4knc’s technical template on Chapter 4 , drum and bass is likely to see a surge not only in this type of style but in the sound design technique the veteran producer has used, and this EP may thus take our fair genre into a new era; one that many heads have been desiring for quite a while. If he keeps his secrets close, however, and probably even if he doesn’t, Fre4knc will likely be among the most sought-after producers for upcoming releases, not to mention a highly prized act at any of the festivals this upcoming season.
Chapter 4 is out today, March 29 on Invisible. For links to all streaming and purchase platforms, click here.