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J Plates - Album Review: Seven Days Of Fire

2020 has been a big year for J Plates, releasing a string of heavyweight DnB alongside a side project offering ambient and lower-BPM electronic stylings. Dropping just in time for Halloween, Seven Days Of Firemarks his debut, self-released LP, and it’s a fitting collection for the spooky season - massive stabbing bass, crunching breakbeats and haunting atmospheres abound.

Continuing his penchant for throwback production vibes, cohesive thematics, and long running times (with 14 tracks, this whopping LP clocks in at over 90 minutes of pure DnB goodness), it’s a nod to both the roots of the darker side of DnB and an updating of the classic sound for modern dancefloors.

Opener Hive Mind Warrior sets the tone early with a sinister rave stab, clattering amens and droning synths, the hoover bass getting downright nasty after the second breakdown. Other amen workouts include Roughhousin’, featuring an especially evil-sounding rave-stab riff that wouldn’t sound out of place on a turn-of-the-century Renegade Hardware or Metalheadz release, closer Operation Exodus with its sci-fi vocal sample, and the choppy, reese-bass heavy Rath Of Osiris.

On the funkier tip, Hash Dash and Valley Side roll out with steppy beats and cheeky, bubbly synth riffs, while standout Turning Pages comes with a Full Cycle-style 2-step and bouncy b-line melded with an anxiety-drenched central riff and beds of mysterious keys.

Dune Crawler and Sonic Architecture mine the fertile territory established by classic early neurofunk albums like Ed Rush & Optical’s Wormhole: chunky, organic drums, techy bass squelches with plenty of ‘voice’, and an overarching feeling of dystopian, futuristic soundscapes.

Rounding things out, title track Seven Days Of Fire has a slowly building intro morphing into a junglistic journey with hefty sub-bass and cavernous, reverbed keys; the experimental Pulsar with its mutating bass squelches and surgically-chopped breaks; and the burbling bass, dubby echoed synths, and jungle-flecked samples of Uptown Shakedown.

This is music crafted with precision and vision: while owing a debt to the 1997-2000 sound when Drum & Bass moved away from its jungle roots to an altogether darker sound, it’s still a thoroughly modern interpretation, and J Plates clearly has a passion for exploring this terrain. Seven Days Of Fire finds a producer at the top of his game, blazing a path through a soundscape mostly untouched by the modern forms of the genre. Turn it up loud and get lost in the fire.

Available via J Plates Bandcamp.

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