Drums of Death – ‘Red Waves’ EP (Civil Music)

Drums of Death returns to the Civil Music camp for his follow-up to the ‘Black Waves’ EP released back in July. ‘Black Waves’ saw Colin Bailey return to more conventional dancefloor fare after the ‘Generation Hexed’ LP (Greco-Roman), producing four tracks coated in his signature electro roots. The latest offering from Drums of Death indicates somewhat more focused and developed material, bound by the artist’s exploration into house and techno.

‘Tear The Box Apart’ opens the account of the ‘Red Waves’ EP; a track which wouldn’t sound out of place on the Night Slugs roster. The inimitable 808 forms the base of a stomping house rhythm, the deep bass kicks complemented by rolling claps and marching snares. Angular, polyrhythmic synths endlessly craft their way around the meticulous percussion, recalling earlier sounds from the producer whilst yet enveloped in a more structured arrangement. ‘The
Jerk’ is perhaps the surprise package, indicating alliances with garage as well as house. A strict speed garage rhythm immediately arises; unyielding 4x4s are interspersed by syncopated hats. Add to this a driving bassline and an extremely high pitched lead, and a simple yet effective groove begins to take hold.

‘Venice Beach’ is potentially the most accessible of the four tracks on display. Bass kicks reverb whilst bright chords tentatively build in prominence. The lofty melody is soon isolated and leads to the euphoric drop, in which a powerful ‘Reese’ bassline is introduced alongside the stepping rhythm and aforementioned chords. ‘Bang The Drum’ neatly rounds off ‘Red Waves’, conceivably the darkest track in tone here. It follows the pattern set before it by incorporating unbending 4x4s, complemented by rattling 909 hats. A wavering energetic bassline twists and turns, underscored by the Drums of Death’s speech processed through a vocoder: “Just bang the drum and kill the noise, mute the synth and then the voice”.

In all, the ‘Red Waves’ EP presents some of the Drums of Death’s most impressive work to date, demonstrating a sound which is evidently more mature and developed than previous efforts. ‘Tear The Box Apart’ and ‘The Jerk’ are of particular note, the house and garage formats providing sound foundations for his intrinsically unique electro roots. However, you can’t help but sense the artist has a lot more to offer, and that with further experimentation and risk he may produce his finer works. For now, ‘Red Waves’ is a step in the right direction.

Ben Roberts

‘Red Waves’ is released on December 5 via Civil Music.