Damu – ‘Unity’ (Keysound Recordings)

Already arriving with his debut album Unity having previously only released two EP’s earlier in the year, Damu is a man who’s keen to make a name for himself among the relentless series of new producers in the world of UK bass music.
Having first appeared on Local Action his second release came on Keysound, who were impressed enough to call him back for the full length treatment.

A decision well made it was too. As the title track/intro leads into the warmth and tenderness of ‘Breathless’ you feel yourself settling in for something a bit special, it’s various melodic elements caressed by the vocal loop ‘let the
games begin’ while tempered dubs give it a fuller body. That soulful expression continues with ‘L.O.V.E’, which uses the infectiously calming sound of steel drums as a focal point to build soothing electronic layers around.

The album then begins to head in a different direction with the tuned-out interlude ‘Weapon♯3’ laying the path for the fluctuating pressure of ‘Maths Is Fine For Sum’, both of which conjure a sense of vacancy that moves away from the more heartfelt tracks preceding. ‘Cheat When You Compete’ takes this atmosphere and steps on the tempo, using an interplay of fidgety vocal samples over a head-nodding beat to make a track that retains that sense of detuned
space while feeling very much alive.

When Roll Deep MC Trim enters the fray with a typically self-reflecting and poignant delivery on ‘Ridin’ the Hype’ (a vocalled version of Damu’s previous ‘Ridin’), the quality of Damu’s production really flourishes. Attaining the polished finish you would expect from overly glossy r’n’b, any sense of indulgence is avoided by well-judged pacing and beats that step off as often as they build up, even allowing for some Girl Unit style euphoric dizziness without overstepping the mark.

His composition skills continue to shine with the kaleidoscopic joys of ‘Waterfall of Light’, its streams of synths bursting over game-boy builds and thuds of bass, whereas ‘Plasm’ takes a fluid, gliding rhythm and adds big, tension-filled notes that harness its deft percussive flow with a sumptuous intensity.

Closing track ‘Don’t Cry In My Bed’ acts almost like synoptic of the album, bringing all the elements together to deliver a knockout curtain call. Whispered winds ghost around the intro before tender chords start to bring back that soulful
warmth, male and female vocal samples then combine for the first time while video game synths bubble up in unrestrained excitement, teeing up a hands-in
the air drop that’s rich with full bodied bass.

Emotive, fun, flowing and a whole lot more besides, to drop such an accomplished album so early on in his output, one that maintains a natural continuity while covering a lot ground, is a real testament to both Damu’s producing talents and his focus on where he wants to take them. Never hinting at just being a collection of tracks, this is what electronic albums should be like.

Robert McCorquodale

‘Unity’ is out now on Keysound Recordings.