Demons On The Dance Floor

Follow-up to the 1997 EP Controlled Developments.

If you're looking for someone to humanize drum 'n' bass, go very far

away from Source Direct. Not to say that Exorcise the Demons,

their debut U.S. long player (they've previously released a collection

of 12-inch singles), is inhuman, but there's nothing warm and fuzzy

about it, either. It's even less friendly than the relatively

unapproachable Photek, a "close friend and labelmate" according to

press releases.

Not that any of this is a criticism: plenty of the record is forceful

and arresting, like the best drum 'n' bass. It does, however, tend to

keep the listener at a distance, each beat pushing just a little bit,

the overall effect being to maintain a kind of fierce attention to the

pulse and the bass -- which leaves one with no alternative but to

dance.

That's not a simple task -- if you want deep concentration, you'd

better fork over some compelling beats. There's plenty to hold onto on

a track like "Mind Weaver," which begins with a standard, jerky drum

'n' bass rhythm and shortly sneaks in a fast, skittering break that

throws you off the bass drum's scent. For nearly nine minutes you're

slightly uneasy, waiting for the next break. "Technical Warfare" brings it to the next level, with an atonal string wash practically

inducing seasickness. It's very nearly torturous -- or at least it

would be, if it weren't so engaging.

There's the occasional misstep here or there, like the jazzy piano in

"Love & Hate," but for the most part Source Direct have fashioned a

really effective drum 'n' bass sound -- full of seductive breaks and

an almost lulling manic quality.

But most of all, Exorcise the Demons is hard -- hard

like concrete, with huge slabs of thick, sharp percussion and

chest-rattling bass. Maybe it sounds off-putting, but the effect can

be mesmerizing.