Who in 1999 could have anticipated that dBridge – member of DNB super group Bad Company – would one day helm one of the most forward thinking electronic labels of all time? Well here we are 13 years later and Exit Records is without a doubt at the forefront of not only drum n bass but electronic music as a whole. With brilliant releases by They Live, Fracture, Clarity, Synkro and Dub Phizix already under their belt, Exit has dropped FIS’ ‘The Commons’, another stellar entry into the label’s catalog of music that both expands the mind and melts the dancefloor.
‘The Commons’ is bookended by two standout pieces, ‘Club Track’ and ‘Patupaiarehe’. The former is a deconstructionist garage banger that features a wobbling bassline that seems to seep through concrete walls and aquatic percussion that slinks around minimally uplifting pads and metallic hits, all coalescing into the echoes of an undersea rave bubbling to the surface. ‘Patupaiarehe’, meanwhile, sounds like the haunting soundtrack to some nightmarish jungle, enveloped in fog and a creeping sense of doom. Rolling tribal drums patter beneath echoed yelps and vocal snippets, sounding like a snake slowly slithering around your neck as a melancholy melody emerges in the background. In between these two tracks FIS delves into more sparse and experimental territory, such as with the cavernous flute and minimal percussion of ‘Steeper’ or the grinding minimalism of ‘Wise Man’.
The ‘Commons’ may primarily be a headphone listening experience, but ‘Club Track’ and ‘Patupaiarehe’ will definitely work on some of the more adventurous dancefloors out there. While not every track sits as perfectly between the worlds of dance and experimentation as do the aforementioned pieces, ‘The Commons’ nevertheless ties together into a powerfully unific package. In the end let’s consider this another devastating weapon in Exit Records’ extensive arsenal. I eagerly await the next.- Beach Coma