mon 22/04/2024

Album: Altered Natives - Time Decays All Things | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Altered Natives - Time Decays All Things

Album: Altered Natives - Time Decays All Things

Album ten for the perpetual squarepeg of London bass music ups the tempo

'A national rave treasure'

There are musicians on the UK dance underground who doggedly identify with particular scenes and evolve with them. There are those who adapt stylistically in order to move from scene, or manage to be part of several at the same time. And then there is Londoner Danny Native aka Altered Natives. He is truly the outsider’s outsider.

He’s made tracks over the years that have been played by mainstays in scenes like house, broken beat, UK funky, post-dubstep and elsewhere, but by a combination of accident and design is part of none of these things. With a distinctively cantankerous and mordant wit, he’s not interested in playing along with what’s modish or with “street” aesthetics, and he’s not afforded the oohs and ahhs in trad and social media that greet whiter or more middle class artists when they ignore genre boundaries.

Nonetheless, he persists, and with typical perversity leans heavily on the album rather than individual club tracks as his main mode of expression – now reaching his 10th since 2008, this one stretching to a full two hours. On this record, he has gone back to his roots as a raver, before any of the other tempos and rhythms he’s touched on in his productions, in the jungle/drum’n’bass scene circa 1994-95. It’s the most purist thing he’s ever done, and it’s dynamite.

Though it may be retro on the surface, it’s oddly timeless. Partly this is because of the way this sound has had untold waves of revival, pop influence and hipness over the past three decades, so it’s retained its currency. But more than anything it’s because he builds it from sonic first principles. This record is not using the hyperkinetic breakbeats and body-shaking low end as signifiers of the past or of cultural allegiance so much as it is treating them as colours to paint with, sometimes like a raging storm, sometime as ultra-minimal as the most finessed techno, and always elegantly crafted. The tracks – yes, all 18 of them – burn with emotional force, and with the instant, bodily, rollercoaster ride thrill of sound in itself.

The presentation is typically individualist. References to death, decay and bereavement abound, and there are hints at horror in track titles like “Ancient Gods” and “Petrol Bath”, but at the same time the pomposity-puncturing sense of mischief is always there – see “Badman Nuh Eat Croissant” and “Ladie’s Rave Tent”: all of which weaves together into the simultaneously thrilling and disturbing emotional depth of the music. Danny Native might be a Groucho Marxist – refusing to belong to any scene that would have him as a member – but he remains a national rave treasure.

@joemuggs

Sometimes it's like a raging storm, sometime as ultra-minimal as the most finessed techno

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