BY NATTY MORRISON
If you’ve given even the slightest listen to Bay Area DJ NiT GriT, you know he’s got something special. He tears his way through dubstep and grime, but with an unusually soft and caring approach. And I mean that in the very best way possible. He niftily smears together glitch and greasy dubstep with strongly emotional and often touching song composition, never shying away from writing floating, impossibly gorgeous chord progressions that many of his contemporaries would never dream of. He’s tough without being pushy, dreamy without being pointless. He’s true to his dubstep roots, but isn’t afraid to reach across party lines and pick from other sounds like house, jazz and, surprisingly, bits of electro-pop. It’s like he’s some kind of elder statesman, without actually being elder.
He’s also quite good at titles. “The Awakening” is the name of his new EP, and that’s exactly what it is. When we last heard from him on “Synthetic Heaven,” NiT was interested in blowing our minds from their respective shells with some of the heaviest whomp bass known to mankind. Now that he’s gotten our attention, it sounds like he’s become comfortable and wants to explore new realms and passageways. He doesn’t need to hit us in the stomach with the whomp, he can just gently massage our heart’s ventricles and pumps with warmer tones and blanketing harmonies. Even the whomp has relaxed a bit, sometimes receding slightly into the background and becoming an all-encompassing hum, as opposed to the robotic, otherworldly stretched out sound waves heard on “Synthetic Heaven.”
Again, “Grit Shifter” is an appropriate title; he’s an artist in full shift-mode. Trading in the deliciously dirty whomp for chill-inducing electric piano lines, he sounds like an artist reborn – or maybe just growing up. Sure, the glitch is still there. Ditto for the whomp. But the track starts off with one of the dreamiest arpeggiator lines this side of Radiohead, and even when that loop drops away its glow remains. The whomp makes its presence known, but instead of a shout, it’s more like a low-voiced reminder. The tempos stays fairly consistent, but it’s easy to imagine a drum n’ bass or house beat being dropped over it in a live setting. This is one that we’ll probably be hearing left and right on the club circuit.
“Love Songs” has a bit of a Pretty Lights feel, as it features a soulful vocal sample pleading, “You don’t understand, how much I love you…I want to talk to you just a little more.” But soon the lumbering bass line begins to take over, and the little synth riffs become quicker, and the vocals becoming more urgent, more defined. Suddenly, you’re knee-deep in the sounds of a nervous breakdown. You begin to realize that maybe this isn’t a simple love song; maybe it goes far deeper than that. Again, it’s one of his greatest attributes: he isn’t satisfied sticking with a simple beat. NiT GriT wants something more from his music.
As the EP draws to its close, NiT GriT offers up “The Awakening.” As far as album closers go, he’s hit the grimy nail right on its grimy head. Starting from a mild whisper, the swooping sounds of air pads and ascending harmonics ring out while a keyboard line loops in manic fashion. It’s a cinematic, slow motion walkthrough the mind of one of electronic music’s most exhilarating and exciting young stars, and as a low voice tells you “Everything is complicated,” he lights up the sky with a fantastic display of whomp bass, glitch effects and heartfelt progressions. Most reviewers like to offer criticisms and advice. My only complaint? Hurry up and drop a full length album. I, and the electronic community at large, will thank you.
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