The Canadian artist known as NC-17 and also once known for his darkstep-but-make-it-dancey style has been on a world tour of both labels and subgenres of late. This year alone, he’s gone super-jungle with SS and Kumarachi on Formation Records and Dispatch respectively, knocked out a cheeky darkstep-styled track on niche Czech label SINFUL MAZE and, most notably, put out a funky yet dark album called Most Violent Year part 1, again on Dispatch, which hopefully implies at the very least a part two.
With all the strides to expand his style brand this year, the core of NC-17’s style is definitely not going anywhere as, for his new EP called Enter the Void, he’s managed to land in the capable yet picky A&R hands of Bad Taste. The EP does a good job of blending NC’s new and old styles by tempering his newfound love for tech and squingy, metallic synths with his mastery of jungle-style syncopation and darkstep drum loops. It’s pretty clear this EP ended up where it was supposed to, because if anyone understands the need to balance new and old, squingy and heavy, it’s Bad Taste label boss, Vegas.
The three-track mini-EP that is Enter the Void is bookended by exactly this sort of balance. Lead track “Bunged Up” has an almost unhinged quality to it in the synths, especially with the blade-sharp metallic swipe of a synth that stabs its way through each phrase. It’s impossible to escape this dissonant, nails-on-chalkboard sound but luckily there’s a strong throwback darkstep drum line grounding the whole cacophony going on above it which, terrifyingly also contains a dissonant drone as a secondary synth, or this track would simply be chaos.
By contrast, EP closer “Map To the Stars,” which, while still containing plenty of chaotic synths, has an ambient melody to ground things. Meanwhile the classic NC-17-style syncopated beat and early rave-style break synths are allowed to run rampant. A flip side to the “Bunged Up” coin? Perhaps, but then we’d have to explain the title track.
Said title track and today’s Your EDM premiere is sandwiched in between “Bunged Up” and “Map to the Stars” in a way that may make listeners think it’s not as heavy as its forebear and predecessor. In fact, “Enter the Void” is the most full-bodied and obviously sound design-heavy track of the three. It’s also somehow the most neuro-tinged and experimental. Keeping with the space/void theme, the intro and breaks on this track are so charged and pregnant with ambient static, the listener will have built up Rocky Horror-level anticipation by the time the mind-blowing, fully-formed beat finally drops. There’s no scrambling up a buildup to get to said drops, either. The track just holds its breath, the bottom drops out and then we’re in beat freefall. It’s a seldom-used technique that only the likes of NC-17 can pull off. There’s the void, for you: entered without warning whether we like it or not.
NC-17 has always had a knack for picking up where darkstep, techstep and dark jungle left off, but his recent work seems even more determined to marry these erstwhile genres with the unholy and ubiquitous neurofunk colossus they spawned. This new EP not only encourages but demands we Enter the Void that was left behind. Luckily, all that’s in there is excellent beats and sound.
Enter the Void drops this Friday, 10/15 on Bad Taste Recordings. Click here to pre-order.