According to Beatport, Subtension’s been on a bit of hiatus since his Tom Yum EP on Flexout last April. With his heavy, orchestral backgrounds and tight AF snares, the Slovakia-based producer left a bit of a gap in the heavy bass continuum, but luckily Subtension has returned with a new three-single offering, due out on NËU this Friday, March 12.
For both new NËU D&B tracks (will we ever get tired of that pun?) rolling, sinewave sub bass is the name of the game. It fills the space between the quite minimal kicks and gives the snares something to grab onto. For “Never Alright,” a collab track with fellow Czech/Slovak countryman Thez, said snares are snappy and minimal and actually comprise the jumpy upbeat, while rather than a standard bass kick, there’s a vintage mod pop sound that’s heavy and deadend, but not actually a kick drum. We’ve heard this mod pop in a number of experimental tracks over the years, but to use it as part of the beat is definitely – wait for it – NËU. Misanthrop must have loved that.
“Tween Wave,” our YEDM premiere today, is a little more dense drums-wise, but that same mod pop is used to fill the kick space. It’s doubled, making things feel a little more dense and intense. In the break, this deadened pop goes spiral to match the snares and they both carry the ambient and atmospheric synth sounds. Bold and heavy, these synths are stretched out over the staff and connected by ebbing and flowing musical wind sounds which somehow sound both techy and organic. It’s wind in a man-made vacuum, perhaps. The lonely, lingering aftershock of the hadron collider. It’s a spine-tingling experience only the likes of Subtension can provide.
There’s a bonus track on this release as well, a techno VIP remix aptly named “Tween Wave130 VIP” is the dancier fraternal twin of the original. Denser on the beat and with even more atmospherics, the synths turn into synthwave here and light up the ambient space in the track even more. This techno version could easily be a soundtrack piece for the likes of the next Matrix movie or, more closer to home, the upset track that makes a Darkshire dancefloor go mental.
Subtension’s always had a way with ambient space, but these new experimental yet still danceable tracks show why there will always be a place for him at the heavier end of drum & bass. Here’s hoping he doesn’t stay away so long this time.
“Never Alright,” “Tween Wave” and its VIP stepchild will drop on NËU on Friday, March 12, Click here to pre-order/pre-save.