Technique Recordings have got previous when it comes to bringing Central and Eastern European artists to our attention. Now, from Ukraine, it’s time to meet Tapolsky & VovKING. The more switched on amongst you will remember them from their intriguing formula-twisting excursions on the Technique “Summer 2017” LP. Now, they’re back with a four-track EP and the space to demonstrate exactly what they’re all about.
As the opening piano riff of “Running” hands the melody to that heart-wrenching vocal, then onto the fragile Rhodes, it’s clear we’re witnessing assured musicianship at work. This is DnB, sure, the punch and snap of the kick and snare combining with heavyweight bass. But, there’s a loose experimental feel to it that means this tune could just as easily be the product of a live electronica band as studio-bound drum ‘n’ bass scientists.
And the live feeling continues as we move into “Deep Disco”. Deep, reverberant plucks of bass lay the foundation for keys and layered vocal samples. Then Tapolsky & VovKING deliver us into soulful chord changes and call-and-response patterns. They’ve even reinterpreted the standard build-drop-breakdown structure of DnB, integrating the form with layout of traditional songwriting. This is uncompromisingly unique, but no less dancefloor orientated for that.
Tapolsky & VovKING go even further down their musical rabbit-hole in “Flame”. As volumes and dynamics modulate in a way you haven’t quite heard before, and little tension-building moments of silence appear as sounds fall away, we’re drawn deep into these producers’ world. It has to be heard to be understood.
The intro of “Cosmic Symmetry” sends us into a whirlpool of influences and styles. There’s neo-soul, R&B, maybe even UKG in there, but that quirky live-sounding synth-work takes us somewhere that’s not quite any of those things. And, under it all, there’s the pulse of bassline and beat that mean that, whatever else it might be, this is very definitely drum ‘n’ bass music.
Let’s be crystal clear. You haven’t heard DnB done like this before. Tapolsky & VovKING are coming to the table with influences and ideas that are daring and challenging, but, are also emotive and engaging. They’ve called this EP “Modern Innovation”, and it’s proved itself well worthy of that title.