For reference, neither 'Natural Selection' nor 'Vancouver' sound massively different from Martyn's first release on 3024, 'Velvet'. They both sound miles apart, however, from the one that started it all, the magisterial 'dat:music' 12-inch on Revolve:R. There is a lot more melody here, a lot more of the kind of tone that suggests color and a range of emotion, instead of the stripped back feel of 'Broken' and 'Shadowcasting'. 'Natural Selection' does have a fairly reduced framework, but it works as a kind of hammock for Kid Drama, whose pitched-down vocal comes to dominate the track. For this reason, 'Natural Selection' doesn't bring a lot that's really fresh to Martyn's repertoire. Still, it provides its funky pleasure with admirable efficiency.
'Vancouver' is the more involving of the two. It starts with a vocal repeating a word that sounds like "grimy" (but isn't), along with some sampled laughter. There's an ultra-low cut bass line that hovers beneath things without taking on the propulsive burden that a wobbly dubstep one would, while at the same time not joining up with the rest of the tune quite as it would in techno. Everywhere in 'Vancouver' there are tarnished sonic surfaces set in opposition to glistening ones, and it's probably this that makes it feel so bottomless. Between the two, 'Natural Selection' is the more irresistibly toe-tapping, but 'Vancouver' is the one that gets me lost in its depths all day.
Like his recent Apple Pips inaugurator and the remixes of TRG and Blackpocket out now, this 12-inch is evidence that Martyn has established a broad and lucid blueprint in which to refresh a range of influences from dubstep to 2-step to techno to house. There are still some growing pains in evidence, like the lack of direction that keeps 'Natural Selection' from greatness. What dominates this release more than anything, though, is the sense that it constitutes another steady step in a headlong rush towards something utterly new and exciting.