Artist: Silencer
Title: Signals
Label: Critical Mass Records
By: Simon Jones | 20 August 2003
  1. Wired
  2. Taking Hold
  3. Rollin N Controllin
  4. Believing
  5. Bubblewrap
  6. Dubshot
  7. Rocksteady
  8. Continuity
  9. Drown In Me
  10. No Escape

Silencer "Signals"

Out Now on Critical Mass Records

Mike Wells (Force Mass Motion) and Marvin Beaver (Dylan Rhymes) have both had wide and varied careers to date, but it was back in 2002 when the duo first got together as Force Mass Motion Vs Dylan Rhymes, producing two well received club tracks entitled 'Hold Back' and 'Vanquish'. They quickly made a number of fans, including James Lavelle. Fast forward a few months and over that period they started to develop their sound further. It was during this time that the Silencer project was conceived, spawning the massive club smash 'Rollin N Controllin'. This has since been followed up by singles 'Believing' and 'Taking Hold', all taken from their debut long player 'Signals' which has now arrived..

Obviously when you put together a long player, you have two aims. The main one is keep the listener entertained and interested for the duration of the album, and the second is to start off in an attention grabbing fashion. This is where 'Wired' comes in, it's haunting ethnic chords weaving themselves subtly into sweeping breaks layers like a boa constrictor, creating a very slick and fluid intro to this album, and slowly building the tempo to transcend into the next few tracks, fading out as the filtered electro hooks and strings of 'Taking Hold' engulf the beats, the downtempo mood of the track meaning Nikita's vocals fit like a glove into the groove.

As the electro grooves are replaced by throbbing bassline, breaks heads will instantly recognise the track as 'Rollin N Controllin' was one of the biggest tracks earlier this year, with that rumbling bass that is evident in several of Silencer's tracks and remixes. Sweeping atmospherics swirl in and out of the groove, taking over towards the end before the bass rumbles back in more fierce than ever before, and this sets us up nicely for the introduction of 'Believing', which uses a big stabbing hook to great effect, pulsating beats and a trippy melodic line adding a twist to that familiar Silencer bassline. The vocal keeps things changed up as the groove shifts back and forth, dropping out into the final club cut of the album, 'Bubblewrap', it's broken beats sitting compacted in a vibrating and warm sub-bassline, deep chords sending ripples through the beat percussion, and ending the club section of the album in fine style.

The latter half of the album sees Silencer get a bit more experimental as 'Dubshot' fuses ragga style melodic beats with a shuffling dubbed out groove. Cinematic strings and a hip hop-esque vocal slow things down even further, setting the stage up proper for the smokey drum loops of 'Rocksteady', rough beats dropping over a guitar led groove freely, as the main riff controls the pace and intensity of the beats. An indication of some deeper thinking from the Silencer lads here, further indicated by the moving ambience of 'Continuity', breathy vox loops rising between sweeping effects that slide from side to side.

The penultimate track, 'Drown In Me' is a deep vocal led number, its laid back beats and strings reminiscent of some of Massive Attack's finest works, whilst 'No Escape' ends the album in dreamy fashion, with a vocal performance that combines the tension of Bjork with the vocal range of Portishead's Beth Gibbons. Like the intro, the finale is important to create a reflection on the listening experience, and 'No Escape' leaves you to reflect on the diversity of this album, which attempts to shy away from the '12 club tracks on a cd' syndrome, and does it in fine style.

'Signals' is more than just an album. It's a sign that Silencer have a lot more to offer, and a sign that maybe, just maybe, the the world of breakbeat has a lot more to offer than just music for the dance floor, as this album crosses the divide between the dance floor and the living room rather nicely indeed.

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