While many D&B labels have been kicking up production during the prolonged worldwide moratorium on touring, Hybris’s notorious experimental D&B label Pesudoscience has been largely quiet. It’s not really outside of the norm for Hybris and company, however, as he’s extremely selective with who he asks to come on board. Only three releases graced the label’s discography in 2019 and in February, 2020 saw its first Pseudoscience release with the “Ponat”/”Mindset” single by M. Justa.
In Perth-based artist Bold Theory, Hybris has truly found a hidden gem. Prior to his linking up with Pseudoscience, Bold Theory had two releases on Aussie label ProtoCode: a halftime track called “Giant Eggplants” which featured on a compilation with the likes of Barbarix and Volatile Cycle which is decidedly polished for a first release, and a solo D&B dual single, “Transmission”/”Insufficient Data” which are both still delightfully glitchy but have some real atmospheric depth.
Citing neuro, footwork and Hybris himself as influences, it’s easy to see from these first tracks why Bold Theory’s beats gravitated towards Pseudoscience and vice versa. The new Zero Approach EP they curated together, however, takes everyone to a crazy new level. Out on Beatport in late August and worldwide just a couple of weeks ago, Zero Approach instantly poises Bold Theory as one to watch for this year and the next.
In the opening track “Time Roll” alone, Bold Theory harkens back to darkstep’s heavy bass while glitching out the beat proper and plays with time and ambient space in such a way that he actually turns the time signature of the track into a roller. The it’s as if he wound the beats around the wand of an actual mentronome and then digitized it; moving from plinky drum and bass to plonky drum and bass and back again, the track’s name certainly fits and this is exactly the kind of sonic mad science Hybris and other beat geeks like him (present company included) love.
The mad science continues with “Strut Like a Robot,” another track that lives up to its name: it sounds exactly like a 1960s robot learning how to jam. That atmospheric sound design comes into play in this track once again and actually comprises the buildup into yet another plinky plonky beat.
It’s not all plinks and plonks for Zero Approach, and the progression of tracks seems to represent a progression of sound as each track gets a bit more heavy, melodic and lush. “Follow the Curve” is a trip along a sinewave where the clicky, snappy beats turn into snares and a cut up female vocal drives the track into the inner space of sound. That inner space is then immediately filled with lots more spacey sine waves fading in and out as a fun, crunchy beat drives into a Tangerine Dream-like ambient break before switching to halftime and then back to D&B again.
The final track and definitive apotheosis of Zero Approach is its title track where all the sounds and feelings come together in an echoey vacuum of ambient sound designs before an amen buildup drops into a massive tangle of fast, rolling snares, heavy beats, vocal melody and heavy bass synth. Is as if the sine wave from the previous tracks dropped into a black hole and is being spaghettified. It’s a strong, circular neuro-tinged way to end this science experiment of an EP.
Suffice it to say, Bold Theory was a good get for Pseudoscience and it’s a testament to the quality of work careful curation can produce. It’s likely this isn’t Bold Theory’s last release with Hybris but even more likely that a major player has just entered the experimental D&B chat.