Etherwood  - Blue Leaves

Etherwood - Blue Leaves

Drum And Bass | Med School; 2015

Rating: 4/5

Drum and bass is a genre of electronic music with heavy basslines and fast breakbeats, usually around the 160–180 bpm margin. Over the years, drum and bass has developed an unfair stigma in society that really pisses me off. There’s an unflattering conception of D’n’B that it is all about filling a nightclub with pilled-up “fuckboys”, and the occasional female body to break up the mass of male stench. 

Although these clichés aren’t totally unfounded, they focus solely on the testosterone-reeking rave context in which D’n’B is usually digested. But drum and bass can be enjoyed when completely divorced from its stereotypical nightclub habitat. Rich with melody and instrumentation, Etherwood’s latest LP Blue Leaves is a perfect example of this.

Arriving two years after Etherwood’s self-titled debut album, Blue Leaves showcases the Briton’s fearsome knack for electronic music production and composition. The album explores the sensuous and technicolour side of drum and bass. Alongside Etherwood’s perfected production style, Blue Leaves features instrumental dexterity and vocal performances from Etherwood himself.

Blue Leaves is a captivating listening experience, which grabs the listener with its first note and doesn’t let go. I was absorbed from the first track “Souvenirs”, which features the caramel drawl of Zara Kershaw. Her powerful vocals complement the song’s piano chord progressions, and intricately intertwine with a spine-tingling bassline.

Each track effortlessly liquefies into the next, creating a lush plethora of instrumentation, cinematic sequences and beautifully interwoven vocals. Orchestration gives the album an ethereal elegance that is far too rare in the world of drum and bass. Etherwood’s delicately crafted melodies sweep over landscapes of fast electronic rhythms.

Eva Lazarus lends her crystalline voice to summer-ready single “Light My Way Home”, as well as “Revive”, a cheeky collaboration with D’n’B producer, Logistics. The latter track exemplifies just how well Etherwood can bring two worlds of sound together. He allows euphonious and mellow instrumentals to form the core, while adding a drum and bass twist to give the track its modern edge.

“Breathe It In” is my favourite on the album. The track starts slowly, transitioning through spherical sequences of deep bass notes and sky-scraping overtones. Tie it all in with a euphoric drop, and you have a magical concoction that doesn’t require any drug to enjoy it.

The album ends with a track called “The Last Hour” that, interestingly, isn’t drum and bass at all. “The Last Hour” focuses on a picturesque rolling piano melody. A violin harmony resonates over the top of the piano chords, later enriched by an orchestra of strings and woodwinds. The track is a breathtaking denouement, leaving the listener craving more from this ultra-talented composer and producer.

Combining virtuosity and intellect with a dash of mainstream magic, Etherwood’s Blue Leaves is well worth your time. It just might be the drum and bass album you’ve been waiting for.

This article first appeared in Issue 25, 2015.
Posted 1:00pm Sunday 27th September 2015 by Veronika Bell.