Saturday, 15 February 2014

Review: D/P/I

D/P/I 08.DD.15 (Leaving, 2014)

How does Alex Gray do it? His prolificacy is undeniable, but it is never at the expense of quality; ever since 2011's absolutely essential I'm Fuckin You Tonight under the retired Heat Wave guise, he has managed to retain a creative hot streak matched by few in the (veritably Fukd) game. Perhaps the key to his consistent freshness is the sonic and stylistic flux he undergoes between projects, from crafting lucid thoughts as Deep Magic to the garbled, glitchy sampledelia of the D/P/I project. Gray was particularly productive in 2013 under the latter alias, releasing two fantastic albums in Espresso Digital - #35 on my list of favourite albums from last year - and Fresh Roses, as well as a collaborative mixtape with Ahnnu which was composed solely of Drake samples.

With the artistic momentum very much working in his direction, Gray's latest D/P/I joint, cryptically titled 08.DD.15, continues in the same vein as his preceding ventures under the moniker: sample-based microscopy, disorientating beats and an uncanny pop nous which binds the whole thing together. Many artists operating within the realms of musique concrète and glitch, such as the likes of Rene Hell, tend to favour sonic abstraction over melody, and this is where Gray's deconstructions differ slightly. While 08.DD.15 is still a decidedly bizarre, experimental album, his ability to displace sounds and re-compose them into something that is aesthetically pleasing is a remarkably unique trait of his. The track "HE.YY" is a case in point - what begins as a molecular reconfiguration of a vocal cut is transformed into a dynamic synth-like texture, complete with a stuttering drum kit for good measure.

08.DD.15 captures the very essence of what Gray is shooting for with D/P/I - the strange, almost hostile sounds of experimental music colliding with amiable street smarts (lest we forget that the 'D' stands for DJ). It also continues in the lineage of being wonderfully incomplete; in a lot of cases, this might be a negative, but it makes perfect sense for an artist who can seemingly toss out quality releases at will, ensuring that every passing D/P/I album is as invigorating and unpredictable as the last.

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