Justin Richardson has dipped his toes into everything from jungle to techno, but his mastery remains in the minimal drum & bass he's been perfecting for well over 15 years. Reduced to almost nothing but trebly clicks and seismic rumblings, Lessons In Depth might be his sparsest yet. Like his 2010 LP Ritual Dance, his debut on Samurai Red Seal uses the tools of techno to get its message across. Every sound is blown up with a generous helping of reverb, and each track sounds like it was produced in some antiseptic chamber with surgical tools.
Take "Creative Elements." Made up of hesitant hi-hats and other light percussive touches, the only thing above a whisper is the fierce bassline and a skittering ricochet that blows up like a flashbang against the darkness beneath it. Any bits of melody on Lessons In Depth—the trills on "Financial War: The Red Storm" or the corkscrew bassline on "Monday Madness"—are brusque and brief, as if they were trying to steel away under the cover of Genotype's pitch-black atmosphere. Every track is a different soundscape to get lost in.
If Lessons In Depth uses techno as its sonic reference point, the meditative spirit of dub is also embedded as deeply as it is in any of Richardson's other Genotype records. Whether it's the meticulous steady rock of "One Rain" or the sumptuous atmospherics of "Jam That Feel," there's a zen-like endurance to the unchanging rhythms that keeps them from feeling too cold or mechanical. It's that same patience that makes a track like "Trick Or Beatz" deep and inviting, as its rhythmic elements rock back and forth on an ebbing sea of low-end.
But for all the talk of minimalism, Richardson's always known how to rock a dance floor (his last single, 2011's A Few Too Many, is proof enough). He offers up two bits of ultra-efficient club music to round things out on Lessons In Depth. "The Day After The Night" is his most direct track in a while, a straightforward skank complemented by ghostly wails and bleeps. "Uppercutz" takes a more spaced-out route, buffeting its razor-wire basslines with drop-offs into near-beatless passages. But even these straight-up dance tracks are packed with details you won't hear unless you're looking for them. It's this kind of thing that makes Genotype's music so rich.
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Tracklist: Genotype - Lessons In Depth01. One Rain
02. Jam That Feel
03. Financial War: The Red Storm
04. The Day After The Night
06. Monday Madness
07. Creative Elementz
08. Trick Or Beatz