Altered Natives – ‘Tenement Yard Vol. 3’ (Eye4Eye Recordings)

Over the last few years the work of London’s Danny Native, otherwise known as Altered Natives, has drawn widespread acclaim from a steadily expanding reach of notable DJ’s and publications. By adopting elements from almost the entire spectrum of bass-centric music and a lot else besides, his tightly worked mutations of recognisable forms touch on such a variety of styles that his productions have worked their way into the record boxes of everyone from Kode9 to Laurent Garnier.

Although there have been a number of singles, EP’s and other long players released over the last few years, it has been his Tenement Yard series that has been the core of his work, each weighing in with 14+ tracks that look to express his personal journey as well as his musical influences. Dropping again on Native’s own Eye4Eye Recordings, Volume 3 is the final instalment of the trilogy as he looks to bring the project to a conclusion before it has a chance to go stale.

Having left much of ruffed up broken beat behind him, nowadays Native is generally concerned with modifying more straightforward house sounds. ‘In My Heart Forever’ and ‘London Gods’ are typical examples, gradually phasing individual elements into the track as they lead in one direction before stepping away in another, keeping the listener firmly in the passenger seat as they evolve through their subtle variations.

Similarly ‘Natural Freak’ sets up its stall as a blissed out summer tune with piano melodies and hushed vocals, but it soon develops in a new direction and when the bass drops halfway through that summer vibe is effortlessly transformed from mid-day sun lounger to a jumping terrace party.

The urban landscape of ‘Bad New Tennant’ conveys a sense of menace through its deep bass notes and atmospherics that continually rise and fall, working at a slower tempo to generate extra tension and heighten their impact. Another highlight is ‘BHUUUMBAHCLEEEEET’ which mixes tribal percussion with the unrelenting pulses of deep techno, creating a hypnotic monster that will lure dance floors into a trance and have them involuntarily punching the air in metronomic approval.

‘The Calling’ and ‘You Cut Me Out’ combine relaxed moods with a slightly anxious tone, the former playing with the gentle unease you might find on an UNKLE record but with spades of dub warmth to make it glow from within, while the latter weaves a dreamlike progression of deep house sensibilities, employing eerie strings and distorted keys to counter Lizzy B’s silky vocals.

There is a sprinkling of humour amongst the artistry as well; opener ‘Martyn’s Friend’ is a tongue in cheek introduction that gives an early implication of the beat mastery that’s to come, despite being mainly focused on having a bit of a laugh with vocal samples and dialogue. Likewise the darkly pounding techno banger ‘Be Nice’ repeats its title in an unrelenting loop, compounding the aggressive feel of the track while simultaneously telling all the club heads to chill out and be nice to each other.

In terms of mining genres for their varying characteristics before harmoniously re-combining them, there is certainly a lot here to admire. What is most impressive, however, is the way Native sets up his productions with an atmosphere that recognisably attaches to a certain feeling or situation, which not only demonstrates the intimate expression he has put into the Tenement Yard series, but also enhances the narrative effect he creates as each track evolves through its various mutations. Moving between fun, aggressive, relaxed and tense, often in the space of only a few bars, it’s a fitting final chapter to a fantastic series.

Robert Mccorquodale

‘Tenement Yard Vol. 3’ is out now on Eye4Eye Recordings.