Doxa - BLUFF003 (Bluff Records, 2020)
The Bluff Records crew strike gold once more with this warping, time bending techno tinged odyssey from Brooklyn based producer Doxa.
Its always wonderful to see a label stamp the core ideals of the heads behind it at a very early stage, as it sets the tone and in many ways the expectations of what will continue to come out through their doors. Setting the foundations is an important value to take to heart from the off, with the threads and feels crafting a sense of place for the music to align itself with, a central theme to revolve around, and the music then gets to speak for itself whilst still staying true to the ideals set by the label itself. Now perhaps more than ever, its of great value to begin life as a label with a strong ethos and musical identity that flows through every level of the label, from the passionate people behind it through to the music that they put out, in order to stand tall amongst the rest as a imprint that wants to find its own voice and place in the current musical landscape. When that identity is infused with a broad ranging musical feel, where the boundaries of the labels identity are seeped in the traditions of blended crossroads kinds of electronic music, when the sky becomes the limit for what is possible. We see many labels these days draw inspiration from producers who looked to pair and blend things a little differently to what has come before, and that has led to all kinds of innovation and forward thinking in the current context, with little micro evolutions occurring all over that help to push genres boundaries forward via innovation and imaginative practises. Its quite a thing to be within this crop of labels and producers who push boundaries outwards and upwards, in that we always come back and invest in their music, their directions, where they are looking to go and how they achieve excellence. With so much music to pick from, like swimming in a vast bottomless ocean, we strive to connect to labels who push out the good shit, crafted deftly with a hint of pairings not necessarily heard before, or at least not all the time, and we find yet another outlet for superb dance music.
Despite only being 2 releases deep so far, Bluff Records have set a big old statement already, and as we arrive here at their third release, things are only looking up from here. The label have already shown that they have a very broad and inventive approach, in that the music that flows from the label has been brilliantly interesting and very refreshing to listen to, with a knack for showcasing artists who approach things a little differently. This shows very much so in the labels first offering, 001, a reissue of a very rare Voy-E promo from the early 2000s, that is full of an extraordinary amount of flavours. As debuts go, it was very assured, with the music found within drifting along under a ethereal breaks and electro gaze, with plenty of progressive melodic sequences and variety shown in terms of mood and tone. Its the kind of diversity in sound and sonics you want from a dance music record, and it really set the bar far and wide in terms of what the label could go with next. It seemed appropriate to then keep the good vibrations flowing with their second effort, 002, which again saw the label reissue another rare Voy-E release, with the two-tracker showing once again the many sides to the producers sound, with one cut a dark dubby streamroller and the other a beautifully upbeat breaky cut that would get the energy levels going anywhere. In summary, Bluff has showcased two excellent records so far, both of which demonstrate their visions and ideals, with their clear adoration for Voy-E's music shining through, with its variety and depth an indicator at the kind of the sound the label is looking to push. Excellence through sonics, a difference in application, a diversity in sound and tone all feel like features which burned brightly from 001 and 002, it left us very very excited indeed at what might come through their doors next.
And we now are graced with their third effort, 003, which comes from the mind of Brooklyn based producer Doxa, and we couldn't be more into the sounds that abound from this beautiful record. The shift in musicality leads into a more techno fuelled realm of existence, but there remains the electro momentum from the previous two releases, with each cut demostrating a differing side to the producers sound. You have the incredibly deep moments of reflection and solace alongside the up tempo divers that get the blood pumping, with a core thread running throughout of expressionism and experimentation, with little elements thrown in here and there that surprise and delight in equal measure. This allows the record to remain constantly refreshing, with a real sense of purpose that runs from the very top right down to the depths of the record, alongside a significant amount of time taken to allow for the listener to get involved with all the little facets that permeate through each cut. Its a brilliant new addition to the Bluff family, carrying on with the ideals set in place during the first two cuts, and opening up a new chapter whilst solidifying the labels sound in all kinds of wonderful ways. So, without further delay, lets get into it.
Up first comes 'Zinger', and we are immediately dropped into proceedings without a moments hesitation. The melodic feel hits first, its beautiful diving dynamics riding high on top of electro tinged drums, crafting a deep and dramatic wall of sound that drips with feeling and tone. The craft put into the sonics is something to marvel at, as the track continues on with its looping feel for a while without for one moment getting stagnant, due to its excellent textural feel and intensely moody vibe, and just as we get comfortable with it, Doxa moves the track into a more dubby segment, with the keys reducing themselves in influence in favour of a plateaued sound that contains all manner of bass orientated lines. The drums then cut out to reveal a pulsating breakdown part, as the flickering keys shine brightly overhead, with the foundations of the track showing their full power and flavour, rising high and receding with all the energy in the world. This flow then leads back into the drums coming right back into play, their feel and tone so appropriate to matching the energy of the sub base harmonies, as the track starts to feed back in melodic notions, always hinting and referring back to what came before but never reverting back to its original format. Truly excellent shit right here. Up next comes 'Permanent Colors', and we begin in a new kind of set up here. The drums are suitably swinging, the kicks moving between regular placements and rigorous groupings, with hats and other percussive features collecting themselves up as things move forward, but our attention is fully grabbed by the cosmic computer driven sounds that laden the top half of the track. This consists of an extremely compelling bass laden high line, that is as fuzzy and textured as you could possibly imagine, alongside a swirling arpeggio key line that points to the skies above at every opportunity, all the while a backdrop pad remains in the background. This provides yet another dynamic to the track, providing a solid feature that contrasts with the brilliantly expressive and interchanging beat structures, a consistent element that binds all the movements and momentums together, as we get fully involved with all this wonderful track has to offer. Brilliance ain't even it.
Up next comes 'Old Cloth', and the vibe continues from the previous cut in terms of tempo and tone. We are immediately greeted with the looping key line, that remains suitably metallic and morphing in nature, that leads the line over a continually evolving beat that moves from the singular kicks and into a superbly full and busy beat. The track continues to build up its sonics and layers, that then leads into the first transition where the melodic features come right into play, in the form of a solid and intrinsically deep key line, again holding the fort in the backdrop of the track, acting as a binding agent to all that flows through the veins. The arpeggio line moves out for a moment, providing time for us to get to know this new feature for all its worth, before it comes right back into things, with the beat now suitably progressive in its structure. The cut then reverts back to its original sequence, providing us with another chance to lose our minds in its rhythmic mastery, before everything comes full circle once more but with a twist. Doxa messes with the pitches and octaves a fair bit, giving the track a further sense of momentum going forward, with an additional squelching acid bass line aligning itself into the fast paced proceedings. It just adds that little bit extra to things moving forward, its tone and feel really one to marvel at and become involved within, a track for the ages. To wrap things up, we have 'Mmmstep', and this is a very fitting way to end a record indeed. The intro is suitably energetic and spacious, with little percussive elements slotting in when needed, but its the application of textures to each sound that help to craft a phenomenal base to the track, with a repeating bass line moving in and out of view continually, alongside a high end hat line that adds depth to the backdrop. The melodic stabs add much to the swirling nature of the track, with all the features acting very much as rhythmic binders, which creates this world of elements in which to get to know, our minds very much placed firmly in the middle as the boundaries of sound get placed far and wide. Its a suitably brilliant ending to a record with so much to say, not just in terms of its musical variety but in its application and overall output, four cuts of the highest order that will break down walls and open up doors for those with any kind of investment in electronic music. Top draw.
Through these four cuts of excellence, Doxa weaves and dips around a ideology forged in tonal impacts and expressiveness, which then allows for all kinds of experimentation to be injected into the music. There's a lot that happens which really captures our imagination right from the off, with singular elements pulling us right into the mix before the other sequences do their magic in relation to progressions and momentum, with our minds firmly taken along for the ride.
Everything sounds so fresh, a melting pot of ideals and musical passion represented in end results that so much to inspire and nurture the music lover in us all. The record is a brilliant addition to the Bluff label, one that only furthers their creative boundaries and aligns listeners closer to the music found here, with so much excitement gathered for what might transpire next. A brilliant record, and one that will be firmly remembered by the end of the year. We couldn't recommend it enough.
Support the troops - 100% of proceeds from this release will be donated evenly to The Black Curriculum and Bed-Stuy Strong: