Hidden Agenda Whatever Happened To...

The latest offering from Jason and Mark Gooding has the duo exploring different possibilities of electronic beats with jazzy sensibilities. While much of it sounds fresh and futuristic, and arguably qualifies as tech-jazz, occasionally we get reverberations of the past. The drum build-ups on "Something Somewhere" recall the scratches and thick electro-beats of "Rock It," while "Low Jazz Fidget" does the slight damage to hard bop drum samples that almost make it sound acoustic. For those still in search of quality, intelligent drum & bass, "Vindication" rejuvenates crisp breaks with sweet ambient chords in ways that few have been able to manage since the glory days of '96 without being nostalgic about it. "Salvation," with its uplifting bass line and off-centre house groove is when Hidden Agenda are at their best. The other tracks are tight, but without a distinct lead melody or vocal the beats often sound a little empty. Still, these guys are much more inventive than many of their peers whose careers similarly came to force in the drum & bass movement and have since remained stagnant. (Straight Ahead)