Secret Frequency Crew Forest of the Echo Downs

The Secret Frequency Crew Sound is a departure from the often punishing textures of the Schematic label, but it's no less wonderful. Forest of the Echo Downs is an intriguing hybrid of technology, live instrumentation and medium to slow tempos, with some well incorporated nods to early digital rhythms. The concept of damp, dark textures with squishy beats could get stale after a few tracks, but the relentless attention paid to the sound design keeps things fresh. It's difficult to separate acoustic from electronic and analog from digital on this disc. One of the best aspects of the revival of early digital synthesisers is a new emphasis of the woody tones these instruments produced. Contemporary production emphasises the bass frequencies of these tones in contrast to the ’80s, when production values tended to value the hollow, clean qualities of these instruments. These sounds are perfect for this project, just check out "Black Moss Caves Pt.2.” The Crew's use of trombones as part of the live instrumentation sounds oddly like Blood Sweat and Tears — in "Baron of the Bog” a waltz-time Portishead groove collides with the trombones to create a dub-wise classic. Insect noises permeate all tracks, upping the creepiness throughout. This is a very well executed concept — I’d love to check out the DJ night these guys put together. (Schematic)