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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

NXV - "Bridging Divisions"

Artist: NXV
Album: Bridging Divisions
Year: 2012
Label: Signifier
Genre: Drum n Bass, Dub, Breakcore
Website:  www.signifieronline.com




NXV is a new/side project of Nick Viola (Fractured Transmission). Bridging Divisions is a mixture of hard, gritty, atmospheric drum n bass and dubstep, with a dash of glitchy breakcore; sort of reminiscent of 90s raves in dirty warehouses, and/or old Panacea mixed with Enduser.

Good stuff:
+ One thing that is hugely missing from dnb is atmosphere, and that is an area that NXV fully delivers on. It's great to hear some dark, heavy dnb with big, shadowy pads and drones behind it. Every track on the album features some immensely dark, murky atmospheric layer.
+ Good variety of tracks. There are some clubby, energetic traditional dnb-ish tunes like "Blind" (probably my favorite on the album); there are some darker, moodier dnb bits like "Cetra"; some glitchier, chaotic breakcore-y pieces like "Remnants"; and some heavy, plodding dubstep tracks like "InversionDUB" (much better than the non-dub version) and "Scorn" which brings to mind, well, Scorn. I find the dub stuff to be the strongest on the album; maybe he wrote these last, as the production is the strongest - the drums, bass and atmosphere fit really well together and play off each other nicely. The beats are weighty and punch hard. The atmosphere is thick but knows its place in the mix. These tracks have lots of stuff happening and move around quite a bit from start to finish. The dnb tracks are all over the place in terms of production and style, and are typically more linear in terms of sequencing. Some like "Blind" have really solid production, great sound selection and movement, yet others like "Undercurrent" and "Wavering" are muddy and chaotic with tinny, weak breakbeats.

Bad stuff:
- The production overall is hit or miss; some tracks are quite muddy and the drums don't hit nearly as hard as most modern dnb. Sometimes the bass or pads get overly sloppy and halt all momentum the song may be carrying.
- NXV kind of has this penchant for using high pitched annoying rave synths...now, I am all for melody in dnb (I love "Grey Matter" by Counterstrike for instance), but these perky leads don't fit the mood at all in my opinion. I will give props in that they sound "old school" and fine for what they are, but they would probably be more suited to a different style of music. A much more fitting use of subtle melodics is showcased on the track "Symbiotic".

Bridging Divisions showcases an interesting mix of styles, and is certainly a sound I would like to hear more of. Perhaps this debut album is him attempting to find the sound of this project, as it is quite a mixed bag of both style and quality. Unfortunately it isn't quite up to the level of Enduser, Current Value, Donny, Counterstrike, etc. but it's a promising start. I am hoping he will continue to evolve this sound and tighten up the production. Recommended songs are "Blind", "InversionDUB", "Scorn" and "The Air Is Wrong".

Overall Rating: 7/10

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