Following on from its last release, Karma’s ‘How You Feel’, V.I.V.E.K steps up to the System plate for his vinyl only label’s third release, simply titled ‘SYSTEM003’.

As I’m sure you can expect, the EP is full of deep, sub heavy, meditative vibes that combines the best that 90s trip hop had to offer – smoky atmospherics and the feel of urban dread – with dubstep’s smog addled, half-step framework.

Opening number ‘Mantra’ is exactly that: a mantra. Slow, subdued, repeating string lines reveal themselves in a painfully leisurely manner before being combined with a ‘Teardrop’ styled drum track and a hefty low-end that firmly transplants the listener back to the late 90s. With all the pedigree that V.I.V.E.K has behind him I was a little surprised at how simple and dare I say, boring, this opening number is. Its sounds are nice, really nice, but unless you are permanently encased in a fog of bong smoke I’m thinking this track probably won’t be for you.

‘Show Me’ – a track that reminds me in part of Commodo’s recent ‘Straight Reptilian’ – ups the ante a lot, creating a dubby, tech-y atmosphere that revels in its blatant minimalism rather than being held hostage by it as ‘Mantra’ unfortunately is. It’s a deep, rolling, eyes down number that references the best of what closest competitors DEEP MEDi do so well.

‘Soundman VIP’ hits like a proper dubstep track should, right in the centre of the chest. Techy, darkstep DNB womps punctuate a delightfully lumbering yet rolling beat that joins the dots between trendy jungle revivalism and early era dubstep. It’s a pure killer of a tune and my favourite on the release.

‘Asteroids VIP’ finished off the vinyl in a flurry of reverb soaked, choral atmospherics and dubbed out drums with the omnipresent bassline serving as an anchor point for the dread infused, psychedelic, spaced out vibes.

All in all the EP is so so. I have no doubt this collection of tunes will sound good on V.I.V.E.K’s custom build System rig, but I think at the latter end of 2013, what with the surge in competition within the dubstep scene, the combination of blurry pads, drone sub bass and lazy, spacious drums just doesn’t quite cut the mustard anymore.

‘SYSTEM 003’ by V.I.V.E.K is out on System Music Monday 25th November. You can pre order here.

Al Kennedy 

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