As regular visitors to Disposable Media will know, I enjoy a lot of the newer music released by The Upbeats – the De-Evolution trilogy had plenty of standouts, and Punks also featured some catchy tunes – so when I found that another new EP was on the way, I couldn’t have clicked the stream links any faster. The new Gamma Ray EP from The Upbeats isn’t being released for purchase until later this week, but the three new tracks have been made available to stream on various services. I’ve been tracking news of the EP for a little while, as the three tracks were drip-fed on places like UKF Drum and Bass’ Youtube channel (“Gamma Ray”), Insomniac Events’ SoundCloud (“Necking”) and Critical Music’s own SoundCloud (“Trauma”.) Of course, this is a smaller selection of tracks than we’ve seen on earlier EPs, but each one is definitely worth listening to and helps to make up a satisfying whole.
The squishy FX found in the Gamma Ray EP
The title track “Gamma Ray” is a collaboration between The Upbeats and Rockwell, and it begins with catchy beats, squishy FX, excellent build-ups and simple but effective bass noise. It’s not the most extreme track but it definitely has a catchy beat, and the weird “Gamma Ray” vocal sample segments the track well. As you’d imagine, there’s an excellent descent into near-silence towards the middle of the track, lingering just long enough before the build-up brings you back into the rhythm. Generally it’s a pretty safe and inoffensive track that nevertheless provides great BGM when you’re drafting WordPress articles.
Effective bass noise in the Gamma Ray EP
The Gamma Ray EP follows up from this opener with “Necking” – a track with similar pacing and structure to Gamma Ray but less intense FX. Opening with a creepy intro that distorts a vocal sample asking “Why are you like this?”, it’s not long before the beat is slipped into the mix and the synthy effects build up to the main event. The “melody” of the bassy noise is less aggressive and gritty than that found in the EP’s opening track, but it’s equally as effective when it comes to establishing a potent combination with the beats, complex fills and escalations. That vocal sample never really makes much of a reappearance after its introduction at the beginning of the track – not necessarily a bad thing when you think about repetitive sampling in drum and bass – but by the time Necking finds its groove you won’t even mind.
The Gamma Ray EP – subdued, but effective
In fact, Necking goes really well with the final track “Trauma” – both tunes providing tight beats, trippy sounds and enough variety to keep the tracks interesting. Admittedly, none of the bassy hooks on the Gamma Ray EP are anywhere near as catchy or in-your-face as something like “Elevator” (from the De-Evolution part I EP) or “De-Evolution” (from De-Evolution part III), so if you’re looking for a track that leaves a similar impression you may come away from the EP feeling a little disappointed. However, the Gamma Ray EP shows how The Upbeats continue to experiment and refine the way they structure and layer their tunes, and how they deliver rhythms that are effective without being a mess of noise and confusion. I don’t know how many of the EP’s tracks will make it into my phone’s music library once Gamma Ray is released – again, I prefer the tracks that are keener to make a strong first impression – but they would fit well into the kind of enormous drum and bass mix you’d listen to in order to survive those long train journeys, or the mixes you use as a means to worm new tunes into the subconscious of your colleagues.
The Gamma Ray EP will be released on Friday 3rd August. See Critical Music’s page for more information.