The sounds of drum and bass shine brightly on Shore to Shore, the debut album from Phase that’s out now via Metalheadz!
Ever have one of those moments the first time you listen to an album where you’re just left stunned? That happened with Phase‘s newly released album Shore to Shore. It was not the namesake track of the album that first caught my attention, but the cuts deeper into the project that led me to lose my mind’s eye for an hour plus. This album’s maturity and depth shine brightly above much of what graces the ears most often.
Before diving into the tracks and moments of the album, a little backstory on Phase himself. Born Bram Schrooyen, the young gent’s been crafting music for the past decade and seen track releases on a who’s who of influential drum and bass labels including Hospital Records, Shogun Audio, Vandal Records, and of course Metalheadz. He’s dabbled in the beat sandbox with plenty of skilled sound-makers including ZeroT and, for this album, was mentored by the illustrious Goldie.
Now, let’s dig into it. What does Phase do on this album so differently? Why does this one resonate so well? In part, it is the attention to detail. Every sound choice feels grounded with purpose. It also breathes a cinematic approach ala Hybrid to the ears. That’s set up Phase for solid success throughout. Beyond this foundation, Phase establishes a darker edge to the album early on. This is not a jump-up, high-energy affair. It lives in the shadows, glides with the groove and rhythm, and makes the hairs stand up.
Listen to Shore To Shore on Spotify or your platform of choice, and read on for a deeper dive into its tracks!
Stream Phase – Shore To Shore on Spotify:
The mood Phase sets is instantaneous from the title track on.
Bold moves pay off as the album opens with the title track “Shore to Shore.” Cinematic instrumentation combines with a deep bass groove on the first half of the title track, before it gives way to the second half of its identity. Broken by the choral vocal, the track gets grimy (yet still cinematic) as it builds into the back section. Accented by distorted stabs, this track shines brilliantly.
Rolling on brings us to “Stress Out” – a track that reminds me of the glory days of Dieselboy‘s Human Nature label – darker atmosphere, dance floor-driven (that two-step drum line is chef’s kiss fun), and some deep, distorted stabs for a lead. Then comes “Frameworks” dropping with some powerful vibes that resurrect the sounds I remember Stealth dropping on RAM Records or Subtitles. That said – there is a definitely honed edge of groovy drum lines (especially in the snares) while the pool of bass and other synthesizers stew menacingly in the eardrum. There’s a bit of the old Technical Itch “Haunted” vibe here without the neurofunk aggression. Love this one!
The interlude draws reflection before showing the atmospheric brilliance Phase is known for.
“Flowstone” drops the darkness and gives listeners a moment to breathe, before we glide effortlessly into the beauty of the pianos of “Cloud Contours.” Distinctly different from what comes before, “Cloud Contours” oozes sex appeal thanks to the thoughtful use of piano and a vibe that rivals the beauty of Calibre‘s deft craftsmanship.
Flip on “Something Missing” and it’s clear that the sound choice was the key to stick this track into drive. The two-step snares and rolling bass keep the march ever forward, but indeed there is something missing that most would expect. This darker mood is short-lived, and the jazz influence on drum and bass comes into full bloom with “Inner Schism.” Guitar licks, a sexy strung bass, and some chords that sound straight from the bluesy end of soul join in the amen drum line to really create a feeling inside.
Halfway through, Phase shows off his varied production ability brilliantly.
As the back half of the album gets underway, another La Meduza collaboration greets listeners in “Thirds.” More jazz notes here – the tempo slows down here to showcase La Meduza’s seductive voice. This is one that a project like London Elektricity Big Band could do wonders with live. “Quick Fix” brings a bit of the old-school feel of Bop into the fray – some elements recall Bop’s The Amazing Adventures Of One Curious Pixel. There’s a fun airiness, despite the darker synth choices here too.
“Good For Nothing” chimes in with La Meduza’s last collaboration on the album, and this one keeps us back in the darker corners of the nightclub, cutting grooves and swaying with stabs that infect the shoulders and hips. The low end takes hold on “Tatter Tune” as automation on the filter and LFOs (low-frequency oscillators) drive much of the tune. If you love bass bins, you’ll likely love this one.
Closing the album are two strong entries.
First is “Riven,” which instantly calls back to a weird computer exploration game of my youth of the same title. That said, this tune feels more like a cinematic piece – sometimes glancing towards a city life soundtrack, sometimes breathing towards a melancholic memory that sort of oozes school memories out of an anime series as a point of reference.
Finally, the album ends with “Only One” which features vocals by Tyler Daley. Easily another rising from the sea of sounds, “Only One” will definitely become a track I expect in sets around the world. The build-up is stunning and the line “You’re not the only one” haunts the mind’s eye. Do not expect this to be some massive romp though – this is the tune you play to keep the crowd engaged, but give them a breather and a moment to sing along.
Shore To Shore offers plenty of atmospheres and a stunning respite from the norm.
It is clear to see that Phase embedded a good amount of his artistic soul into the album. While the tracks are older in his production book because the album experienced delays due to the pandemic, the effort imbued into this album sparkles with a mood of mystery and ease. Every element slides into its space, and there is no rough corner to find in the sonic journey. If you can, add this album to your library today!
Phase – Shore To Shore – Tracklist:
- Shore to Shore ft. La Meduza
- Stress Out
- Cloud Contours
- Something’s Missing
- Inner Schism
- Thirds ft. La Meduza
- Quick Fix
- Good For Nothing ft. La Meduza
- Tatter Tune
- Only One ft. Tyler Daley