There’s a lot more to the drum & bass genre than just drums and bass. It’s one of my favorites of all the dance music subgenres, if not my absolute favorite—it’s just so versatile. There are a ton of different moods that artists can bring forth with the same drum pattern and quick tempo; you’ve got dark warehouse bangers, in-your-face aggressive party starters, uplifting anthemic pop tunes, and even ambient emotional songs that tug at the heartstrings. When an artist is able to handle more than one of these, it’s awesome; when they can handle all of them and more, even more so. And with UK artist Dimension’s debut album Organ, I can safely say I’m blown away by the versatility of it all. None of it feels game-changing, but it also doesn’t feel like it has to be; it’s just a really, really good showcase of how much fun and inventiveness can fit into the drum & bass scene.
Organ may be a brand new album, but it’s a sort of half-and-half of previous singles and new material. The songs here date back as far as 2018, even before this album cycle—“Desire” with Sub Focus, “Devotion” with Cameron Hayes, and “Love to Give” with Culture Shock and Billy Lockett were all well-played tracks long before Robert “Dimension” Etheridge started teasing his debut record. However, for the sake of honesty, I had never heard any of these before I heard this album, so I got to go into it with a fresh perspective (Added bonus: now I have the rest of his discography to check out for the first time, too!).
There’s something about an album that compiles several tracks of several different places in a musician’s head or career (think Baauer’s PLANET’S MAD or Jake Joseph’s Superjail!), especially one that manages to feel like it all holds together despite the diversity of sound within it, and I’m ready to add Organ to that list of albums. While this record mostly keeps to drum & bass with a few diversions here and there, what it does within the genre is exciting and fun, equally playable at a late night rager and an early morning drive. It runs the energy spectrum from jump-up-and-rave to sit-back-and-relax, and I loved pretty much every second.
Don’t expect the whole album to sound like the first two pop-oriented tracks, “Saviour” (featuring Sharlene Hector) and “Alive” (featuring Poppy Baskcomb); this is a one-two appetizer that shows you one side of Dimension’s skill set before the rest of the record smacks you in the face with every other trick in the artist’s bag. Not to say these aren’t excellent tracks on their own, though. “Saviour”‘s soulful vocal from Hector acts like a jet engine to power the rest of the track’s headbanging melodic energy, lifting you high into the air so you can enjoy the turbulence to come. Baskcomb brings her own flavor to “Alive”, giving us powerful-yet-personal hooks over what sounds like a cyberpunk love ballad you can still get down to.
From here, it’s anyone’s guess as to where things might go. “Danger”, featuring the legendary MC GQ spitting infectious bars, begs to be played at a late night party full of sweaty bodies in a warehouse club somewhere with its thick bass and trap accents. Hypnotic Russian vocal samples and thundering mechanical sounds drive “Altar” through a rainy, violent night in a near-future city. “Lord’s Prayer” lets singer Liam Bailey loose over a sampled drum break and some of the most gorgeous lead synthesizers on the whole record. There’s even a callback to one of my all-time favorite techno songs, Cirez D’s “On Off”, in the main melody of the cleverly titled “Plus Minus” (assisted by Arctic Lake on vocals). The beauty of each of these bangers is in the simplicity of it all—the melodies are easy to wrap your head around, and could be repetitive and annoying if not for Dimension’s skill at building and releasing tension around them. As it stands, Organ‘s best tracks catch in your head and it’s hard to get them to let go, even the barebones-in-a-good-way title track.
There are loads of lovely little experiments on this record as well, moments where Dimension allows himself to break free of the drum n’ bass constraints. We have the hip-hop banger “Psycho”, clearly influenced by Gesaffelstein’s “Hellifornia” to some extent, bringing its own melodic energy to the King of Darkness’s table. We have the synthwave pop stomper “Domino”, bringing a steady rhythm alongside the artist’s trademark chunky drums and biting melody. “UK Border Patrol” is surprisingly relaxing in its downtempo trip-hop rhythm. And then we have my two favorite songs on Organ by far, “Offender” and “Hatred”. The former is a fiery four-on-the-floor UK-acid-hardcore banger with appropriate crowd samples, chanted lyrics, and another simplistic main riff that’s guaranteed to stick in your head and start a few riots. Break these walls indeed. “Hatred” follows a few tracks later with biting spoken word from featured artist E11E and a hard-hitting return to drum & bass that makes her sound like the antihero or villain of a science fiction story. It’s awesome, is what I’m saying.
By the time you reach the two-track melodic finish of “Desire” with Sub Focus and “Sensory Division”, you’ll probably be begging for the breath of fresh air that these songs leave you with. It’s a tornado of different, fascinating sound, and while I stick to the heavier bangers on my subsequent listens, I’m sure other listeners of different persuasions will find their own favorite tracks and little moments to appreciate. One thing’s for sure, though—Organ all sounds like it came from the mind of one artist, and I think Dimension deserves a ton of praise for that. Give it a listen; I hope your mind is just as blown as mine is.