The great thing about DLR’s Sofa Sound imprint and A&R is that, just like DLR itself, there’s always a sense of fun and funk built into every track. From the release artistry, to the sound design, to the deepest, heaviest tracks that’s still a tad bop, there’s a playfulness that gives Sofa its mass appeal while still being technically spot on. With their new collaborative EP Fresh Cutz out tomorrow January 25th, Iris and Sweetpea have more than embraced that fun side of beatmaking with a collection of fast, funky rollers.
Most US bosses know Iris from her work at Quadrant. Together they were one of the few US acts to capture the dangerous Atlantic connection and have garnered top billing from UK labels, releasing to the likes of Delta9, C4C, CIA Dispatch, Shogun and many more during their long tenure on the scene. Iris has done her fair share of solo work too, but seems to be really getting into it over the past few years, with one of the first branching tracks, fittingly enough, featuring Sweetpea on DLR’s Sofa King Sick Chapter 3 compilation.
Sweetpea is another D&B life artist who has been making tracks since 2016 and has quickly become a mainstay of Sofa Sound and Bcee’s Spearhead Records, while also releasing tracks on Dispatch, Hospital and Addictive Behaviour. She is also part of the powerful London women’s collective EQ50, which is committed to giving all artists in drum and bass an equal opportunity. Known for Neuro with the dirtiest of them, but also capable of making a killer vocal track, if you’re a head from the States who hasn’t heard Sweetpea’s discography, it’s time to google.
Iris, Sweetpea and DLR have chosen a cool format for Fresh Cutz: there are two real collab tracks that both artists worked on and two that are just about Iris or Sweetpea. This is fun for the tech heads because the audience can really hear each artist’s individual style right next to their fused work. It’s an interesting study of how collabs are made. The collab tracks are the title track, an erratic throwback to a deep roller that’s as fast as it is minimal in sound design, and last week’s teaser track “DFS.” “DFS” has a similar snare-focused, fast-moving beat structure, but lands more on the dark side than the deep, especially when the tempo switches to a fast-paced version of dubstep at the break.
The EP opener “Not Even a Big Up” is Iris’ track. Continuing the rolling drum motif, this track still has that throwback cachet that both she and Sweetpea love, but Iris gave her track an extra, oh-so-subtle rave injection in the sound design. It’s just a hint of musicality and a few mid-90’s samples, but it makes a difference and carves out Iris’ own style while staying true to the theme of the EP.
Similarly, Sweetpea’s “Duck Funk”, our YEDM premiere tonight, is fast and forward in its rolling drums like the rest of the EP, but has plenty of spooky, almost menacing sound design. A fixed, low-reg synth does much of the work on this track, carrying the music while blending with the drums, then falling back into the background on the break where it gets even more solid and reverberant.
This break bit is perhaps technically the most interesting part of the track because that synth never goes away and is never really in the background. The form it takes during the aforementioned break makes it sound like it’s being played in a club behind closed doors. It gets weaker, but you never stop paying attention. It comes back on a cascading sine wave that pulls the listener into the rave. The magic of rave is encapsulated in this moment; we all felt it, but it’s impossible to describe. Luckily Sweetpea caught it in a mixdown for us.
It’s clear that Sweetpea and Iris share a common vision for their work, and on Fresh Cutz they cross paths on rolling drums, minimal sound design, deep synths and, of course, rave. Bring the fun and funky side into play with Sofa Sound, and this EP is as fresh as it is timeless.
Fresh Cutz will be released tomorrow, January 25th on Sofa Sound. Click here to pre-order or pre-save.