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After 15 years and over 30 releases, Toronto native Stranjah is set to release his first full-length LP on DJ Ink’s seminal Architecture Recordings. One of the first producers to gain international acclaim out of Toronto’s storied Drum & Bass scene at the turn of the century, Stranjah (real name Alan Lam) saw his early productions catch the ears of some of D&B’s elite. This lead to releases on foundation imprints like Metalheadz, 31 Records and Flex Records. His style has always involved incorporating a melting pot of influences and experimenting with the full spectrum of Drum & Bass. “Visionz of a Future” sees Stranjah turning in a whole album centered on the core sounds that got him his initial attention in the nineties. The album’s dark and minimal aesthetic relies heavily on moody, atmospheric overtones with an emphasis on brooding sub bass and pulsating drum patterns, all drenched in a melancholic soul that makes the project just as playable at home on headphones as it does on a huge rig.
Opening cut “Eminence” builds a hazy smoked out groove with head nod bass anchoring languid melodies and chord progression. “Decadence” ups the tempo using steppers beats and garagey tones, combining ravey synth leads and a low growling reese bass that builds the track’s tension as it twists and turns. “Assassinz Redux” continues the Rave theme encapsulating the essence of late night journey sets on a massive system. It’s rolling Jungle vibe, uplifting piano hooks and melodic vocals fit right in pocket with some of Commix and S.P.Y’s similar leaning output. Title track “Visionz Of A Future” employs stark melodies over crashing breaks creating a futuristic, robotic soul soundscape underpinned by lethal sub bass. “Interrogator” feat Evidence slows the tempo down to 140 bpm, a pace that Stranjah’s style fits perfectly with. Low slung, gritty techno tinged dungeon dub that is in direct homage to the brand of dubstep championed by the likes of Youngsta and LX One. “Changeling” goes down Headz at Bluenote territory combining chunky hardstep breaks with a vicious speaker rattling bassline and chill inducing atmospherics. A huge dance floor workout and album stand out. The bass cone pummeling continues on “Krypwok” where Stranjah’s mastery of creating tension and aggression out of minimal components is on full display. B Boy beats, Kilimanjaro subs and spine tingling synths layer up to bruising effect. “Medusa” feat the gruff vocals of rapper Greezy proves to be an excellent collaboration as Greezy’s rugged voice gels perfectly with Stranjah’s signature moody dub wise. More of this partnership in the future? Teaming up with fellow Toronto producer Evidence again on a half step tip, “Undertow” is just as the title suggests: Murky, submarine bass and lurking bleep textures gel with dubbed vocals and 808 woodblocks. This is another fruitful collaboration whose possibilities excite for the future. “Sorry” feat Tiff Mak on vocals showcases Stranjah’s proficiency at the 140 bpm tempo once again. Stuttering bongos, swampy bass and eerie analogue grit create the perfect backdrop for Tiff Mak’s mournful crooning. Finishing on a style near and dear to Stranjah’s past body of work, “Amen Fury” is exactly as it sounds. Dark side Jungle chords build to high pass amens before the full power of the break is unleashed with a destructive combination bass line that rips through your whole body. The MC doesn’t need to call for it, as rude boys scream their throats raw and slap which ever flat surface they can reach: Pull UP!
“Visionz of a Future” culminates a decade and a half of production skill and musical exploration into one concise package that reminds you of the beast lurking within the soft spoken kid from Canada. The vision of the future for Stranjah is simple: Endless contributions to the Bass Music canon and his place set in stone as one of the greatest to ever do it from his well documented city.
Visionz of a Future
Interrogator ft. Evidence
Medusa ft. Greezy
Undertow ft. Evidence
Sorry ft. Tiff Mak
Bonus Track: Sorry (Instrumental)
Release/catalogue number: ARXLP003
Release date: May 20, 2013