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"Modus Operandi"
by: Zero Sharp

Under the guise of suggesting solid Christmas presents for those who like music, I'm deciding to go back into the past again to my favorite year of 1997. This time, I want to talk a little bit about drum and bass; more particularly, some of the albums for those folk who've never heard of the stuff or those who weren't around listening to it during that time. The genre's gone on to evolve into something much faster and more busy tempo-wise, away from the roots which really made the tempos feel variable. First on the plate is the album "Modus Operandi" by Photek. In the days where "Intelligent" drum and bass was starting to make an impact, Photek broke through as one of the masters of the craft. His style is distinctly darker, more minimal, subtile, and much more sublime that many of his contemporaries. "Modus Operandi" was his first full length album, although he released quite a number of singles before that. In many regards, "Modus Operandi" is his most experimental album, and it stands at strict odds with many of the tracks coming out for the dance floor at that time. Probably one of the most incredible things about Photek's style is his ability to take simple rhythms and layer them into sounding incredibly full and hauntingly empty at the same time. This style of his shines through on every track from the skittering drum pattern over a walking bass in "The Hidden Camera" to the use of many different cymbols in "KJZ". Doing this makes the rhythms vary between feeling fast and slow; it lets the listeners decide how they want to internalize the flow of the track which is something quite rare in the scene anymore. Even if it's not a dance album per se, it's rare to not see heads nodding to it. The sounds and production are just as beautifully refined and fresh as the beats, even now, six years after its release. Many of the sounds Photek chooses to use are virtually unheard in other drum and bass, and the ways he uses "normal" sounds makes them seem like they too haven't been seen in this light. This album is a must-have in any electronica collection. I especially recommend this album to those who've heard some good beatwork in drum and bass tracks, and know that there is so much more possible if people were only creative in their uses of breaks. This is the refined sublimity that is possible in electronica, and it shows that drum and bass doesn't have to be a strung together collection of tired, similar, amen and hoover anthems. This is still the future, and the future is beautifully dark.


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