For those not privy to Ivy Lab’s unique blend of wonky drum and bass fused with hip-hop sensibilities, they’re likely missing out on an entire sub-genre of which they’ve become a mainstay: halftime.
It’s no secret that I’ve a personal affinity for the genre, in particular enjoying the ostensible contradiction between the awkward rhythmics and jittering danceability; a mixture often complemented by pitch-shifted vocals and experimental ambience in- between.
‘Press Play’ is an effort of inspiring restraint, always showing just the right amount of what is required to make an excellent track, whilst avoiding a crowded mix/soundscape. The titular track is up first, opening up with glittery arpeggios reminiscent of the unapologetic sonics used in the Dre/Bling era of rap. The beat drops into an 808-led groove which marches through off-kilter, pipe-like synths and manipulated vocal stabs. Flashes of nu-trap pioneers, ‘TNGHT’, shine throughout this cut, showing off their penchant for the now-ubiquitous Southern US genre.
‘BBQ’, on the other hand, experiments with swelling, warping synths and ghostlike stereo work in its main motif, mounting to its climax with what could be most closely compared to a warm bass guitar that ties the underlying harmonies together. This is, in my opinion, the best track on the record and it’s in the concluding ambient passages where the EP’s best work is done.
‘Dresden Codex’ once again leans into trap influences, embellished by generous helpings of acid-style synthwork and heavily distorted vocals. The result is an eerie, plodding number with a discordant feel which would fit snugly into late October’s
Finally, ‘Options’ is an homage to the other parent genre that underpins halftime, deftly toeing the line between liquid and more conventional drum and bass sounds. Emotive strings round off passages led by pained female vocals, both spurred on by a hearty bass line and breaks-style drums. A fitting end to a veritable showcase of sounds on offer.
More impressive than the shows of brilliance Ivy Lab exhibit is how consistently they do it—it is indeed rare to find a group that has the longevity, influence and creativity that the London based outfit have and ‘Press Play’ is not an effort to buck that trend. Boasting
all the familiar hallmarks and the right amount of breadth, the EP is thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish, and contains enough variation to fill a number of dance floor niches.
Listen to The 3000 Network Premiere of ‘Press Play‘ below:
Ivy Lab – Press Play is out now on Dirtybird, stream/download below: