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Album Of The Month Album Reviews

Mark System – Final Approach

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Label: Exit Records
Release: Out Now

Exit Records head honcho dBridge has never been one to enforce strict rules upon the artists who release through his label. An archive that features the mechanical crunch of Amit alongside the angelic touch of Synkro & Indigo, or the tribal depths of Loxy & Resound stands testament to that. In fact, the only real code of conduct, guideline, or whatever you want to call it, is this: remain true to the craft; and there are few who understand that more than Mark System.

Since his Future Thinkin’ debut in 2005, Mark has never settled on a particular style of drum & bass, but rather permeated borders, absorbing all there is to know about his profession, and constructing a well-rounded catalogue of his own in the process. Thus a decade on, Mark finally takes the step up to the LP plate, and effortlessly knocks one straight out of the park.

A culmination of the producer’s expansive palette, Final Approach is a journey, such that it could be played in almost any order and convey every emotion expected of the best DJ sets. Beginning on a lighter note, Mark pours out heart-warming synth work. The amusingly named ‘Waiting For A Meaningful Title’ is almost enough to induce tears, riding the invisible line between poignant and joyful, picking out an acute beauty from sadness.

As it progresses, the album turns the heat up to incendiary levels. The gruffness of ‘Lover’s Resolve’ and the unstoppably catchy bassline of ‘Optix’, which of all the album’s tracks set to infest clubs for years to come (and Final Approach has a lot of them), provides perhaps the most current and yet timeless rendition of what drum & bass can and should feel like. The phrase ‘instant classic’ may be a frustrating and shamefully overused oxymoron, but nothing feels more appropriate in this case.

Later, touching on the funky heritage of the genre, Mark offers the slinky stylings of ‘Don’t You Remember’ and ‘Fruit and Water’. So why doesn’t the album sound like a huge incomprehensible mash of influences? The simple answer is, well… simplicity. Similar in structure, if not always sound, to the archetypal methods of Ed Rush & Optical, Mark takes minimal elements and uses them to their full potential. The result is an unmatched cohesiveness between each song, despite the often divergent paths they take.

Final Approach presents a paradox then; on the one hand varied, whilst on the other consistent. And not only that, but it presents drum & bass that is both modern and easily-digestible, and yet packed with esoteric tributes to times past. What can be deduced from this, is that Final Approach is, at its core, a open letter; a statement expressing one man’s love for the music that surrounds him and an invitation to join him in its celebration.

 

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