ALBUM REVIEW – “Purpose” EP by Noisia

Quite why Noisia aren’t a household name isn’t immediately apparent. Electronic dance music has dominated the mainstream of pop culture for years now, hugely successful producers locked in an arms race to create the most sanitised, faux-euphoric ‘anthems’ they possibly can. In fact, that’s probably where the answer lies – a world in which ‘#SELFIE’ enjoys nearly 200 million YouTube listens would never be able to embrace music as intelligent and challenging as that which Noisia create. Revered in the underground EDM community for the attention to detail with which they craft their tunes and their innate ability to balance technical production genius with the fundamental human desire for melody, they represent everything that electronic music should be in the 21st century, if not what it actually is.

Although the Purpose EP (which frankly has both the length and quality to qualify as a full-length album) represents a return to the more pure drum-and-bass roots of a group that have dabbled in numerous sub-genres across their career, the title track alone manages to cram in more creativity than many producers can conjure across their entire career. A berserk percussive assault, throwing out dancing synth leads with sheer abandon, it’s a borderline suffocating listen but one with enough atmospheric clout to stand as more than merely an exercise in proving Noisia’s production mettle. Though dark minor-key swells blacken the tone of most of the record, a sense of humour pervades in the footloose strut of ‘Oh Oh’ and comedic voice sample on ‘Asteroids’. Sometimes silly but never once stupid, this 45 minute thrill ride makes most of the popular dance music of today sound hackneyed in comparison.

It also carries sufficient heft to rival any over-compressed brostep you’d care to name – the “you’re shaking hands with danger” sample before the drop of ‘Shaking Hands’ provides fair warning for the sludgy, squelchy bass punches that follow. The intensity of ‘Running Blind’ is achieved through utter elimination of any space within the frenzied beat, while the twists and turns of ‘Stamp Out’ keep the listener guessing. Despite its quality, Purpose does lack something in the beauty of previous Noisia works, only the primordial epic ‘Long Gone’ taking this route. This lone, sprawling highlight does at least show how expansive and really quite gorgeous the trio can render their electronic arsenal, when they’re not simply on pummel mode.

A potentially accessible starting point for Noisia novices, the Purpose EP nonetheless falls short of the groups finest work, its focus on one style (drum n’ bass) understating the vast array of talents they hold – what’s more, the surprisingly muted and underdeveloped ‘Leopard Slug’ is a poor closing tune. It does however continue to prove that Messrs’ Roos, van Sonderen and de Vlieger refuse to compromise their vast, untamed abilities in the name of commercial success. The mainstream will continue to not know what it’s missing out on; the faithful will continue to lap in Noisia’s obvious genius.

Rating: 8 / 10 

Michael Bird

‘Oh Oh’

 

Noisia

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