A key drum & bass label flirts with footwork.
surprising it hasn't released more footwork. The Chicago style's influence ghosts through the productions of some Exit artists; Itoa's EP last year, Ever Orbit, included some footwork and juke; and the footwork icons DJ Spinn and the late DJ Rashad have featured on tracks from the label. But Before The Storm by Japan's DJ Fulltono is perhaps the first time Exit has released a straight-up footwork record.
That said, Fulltono is anything but a traditionalist. If you take, say, DJ Rashad and RP Boo as archetypal footwork artists, you could define the style as a collision between broken 160-BPM drums, pulsing basslines and soul and hip-hop samples. Fulltono, however, tends to skip that last part. His tracks are sleek, opaque and super minimalistic. Take a look at Before The Storm's cover—it nails his vibe. These four tracks barely contain anything beyond their tunnelling drum patterns, but, with its occasional melodic stabs and the looser drum samples, "Apaches" is the most animated. The remainder of the tracks are sort of like footwork versions of the "Bonus Beats" you used to get on '90s house records. They're impressively produced loops, full of slick surfaces and ear-catching details, but it's tough to consider them as anything beyond DJ tools.