By: Bran Walser Nonni
When it comes to dubstep, Circus Records is always in the conversation as a vanguard label, and one of it's co-founders, Flux Pavilion, deserves at least a mention. With his Freeway tour through the US a smash success, critics expected a great deal of Joshua Steele's Freeway EP, which dropped earlier this month.
Opener "Steve French" is a beautiful mix of both Flux and Steve Aoki's sound and style. Easing in ambiently, soon the high pitch synth and glitches come in--characteristic of an Aoki production. Another telltale sign of an Aoki take is a steady 140-145 BPM. Flux usually operates on the slower end of the spectrum. In the background, there is the sound of ever present drums and a deep vocal sample dropped in for effect. These are definitely Flux's doing. This is followed shortly by a sample that sounds like the fire from the bass cannon. I love it. It's a perfect stop in the beat and keeps the listener on their toes. It all comes together for a uniquely Flux and Aoki collab. Not my favorite on the EP, but I respect the change in pace that Steele is aiming for.
"Gold Love" is a Flux original, through and through. Rosie Oddie's voice is tender and beautiful, but with a hint of a twang; reminds me a bit of Amy Winehouse. The drop isn't massive, but strict to his style. This song, with its female vocals, talk of lost love, and ethereal interludes, is greatly reminiscent of Flux's remix to "Cracks" back on UKF in 2010, but ultimately, this song has nothing on its counterpart.
"I'm the One," featuring Dillon Francis, happens to be a personal favorite, and for the first minute and a half the sound is all Flux: a triple beat followed by a drawn out siren. The "I'm the One" refrain seems, to me, to be the doing of Dillon Francis. It isn't until about three minutes in when he comes in hard with high pitch gatling gun lasers. Very well done, but I felt the "I'm the One" refrain to be a bit repetitive.
"Freeway" is the highlight of the EP. It opens so beautifully, creating this overwhelming sensation. It's hard to categorize this feeling, but it's inspirational, in essence. It's much slower and more stylistic of Flux. It's a little different because he's usually in your face with bass, high-pitched squeals, and ridiculously booming drops. Easily a fave.
"Mountains and Molehills ft Turin Brakes" has such an awesome name. I'm a fan of the sentiment, "Don't make a mountain out of a molehill." It's simple, but carries a heavy message. The drop is perfect, followed closely again by distant and mystical singing from Turin Brakes. It slowly builds behind the singing and triple beat drops, again. "Dun-dun-dun!" This song mixes the inspiration of "Freeway" with the drops of "I'm the One." The electric guitar wammy around is worked in fantastically. You can't help but head bang along on your double-necked air guitar.
Freeway is solid. It has its ups and downs, but Flux changed it up a little. He also had a lot to live up to following his last EP, Blow the Roof, which was so epic to me! As a dynamic person and producer, I respect that. He could have stayed with the crowd and the popularity, but he diverged a bit and it worked well enough.
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