Over the last 6 months mysterious anonymous tracks have been appearing on YouTube, Soundcloud and the Exit records website, diverse in style and attributed to Richie Brains. But just who is this Richie Brains? Well the imagery offers no clue as to who may be behind this brilliantly diverse drum and bass album and whilst the mask has since been removed during a live performance at Phonox I’m not going to tell you who Richie Brains is, after all that’s part of the fun.
What I will tell you is the clues are all present in this release: the album is being put out by Exit records, there is a taste for many styles; drum and bass, ragga, footwork and grime all appear whilst the vocal styles sound like a very familiar grime artist.
This project wouldn’t be half as fun and enjoyable without brilliant music to support it and that is exactly what you get from this album. Exit records has been known as a label that has explored and stretched the very meaning of drum and bass music and that is exactly what this album continues to do.
The vocal tracks lean closely towards grime and ragga whilst the instrumental tracks vary widely taking in ambient, drum and bass, footwork and dancehall. The diverse nature of this album can be seen as a product of the anonymous being/s behind it but also as an attempt to widen the pallet of drum and bass fans.
As a huge fan of the experimental side of drum and bass recent releases have disappointed me. Calyx and Teebee’s album was not as experimental or adventurous as could have been hoped for neither was the album from Rene LaVice. However, Richie Brains seeks to right these wrongs and from the very first track, Game Shades, things get off to a thrillingly experimental start. The track itself sounds like an off-cut from a John Carpenter soundtrack with a grime-y twist. It’s excellent.
The quality doesn’t really dip from here on in, Bring Dat Back featuring Killa P is a particular highlight and generated huge interest for the project when it appeared on YouTube earlier this year. Sounding a bit like a track by the Bug it takes the listener on an aggressive bass driven trip.
Drum and Bass has always been a genre which has been able to take on its influences and absorb them into new and interesting styles, hence both its diversity and longevity. It is this technique of borrowing musical influences but presenting them firmly in a drum and bass package that Richie Brains pulls off so well. There are few Drum and Bass releases this year where tracks as diverse as the Blips will be found sitting alongside a track like Buss It.
Through its diversity and brilliance Who is Richie Brains? Retains a sense of fun and is a truly enjoyable listen, which is both experimental and accessible. This is a great album for Drum and Bass heads, Exit records fans or those wishing to listen to be inducted as a junglist for the first time.