dapt begins with the sound of warm pirate radio crackle, but expectations of a soulful, Burial-esque affair are shattered within about four seconds, as a torrent of thunderous grimy beats blare forth like Godzilla emerging from beneath the concrete of southern London. Distorted, ragga-informed vocals resemble a malicious, bestial roar, mocking the suffering of anyone stupid enough to get in the way, while police-siren synths add to the confused chaos.
Those familiar with London producer Milanese's back catalogue would hardly be surprised; 2006's Extend was a skeletal hybrid of grime, dubstep, and jungle, with a darkly subterranean atmosphere, sounding like some inhuman horror creeping deep within the sewers of London. But while Extend was malevolent and imposing, Adapt delivers on the promise of evil: what were once sparsely populated soundscapes here become dense, aggressive tapestries of distorted beats, eerie synths, and belligerent vocals.
As the title implies, Adapt offers remixes from Extend and 2004 effort 1up from luminaries such as Clark and DJ Distance as well as Milanese himself, plus a couple of new tracks. The variety of producers leads to a well-rounded variety of approaches. On "Sight Beyond Sight," Hrdvision reduces the piece to a fine weave of glitched-out, minimal beats, backed by ghostly synths. From "Mr. Bad News," Clark constructs an intimidating drum 'n' bass interpretation, which soon evolves into a chaotic maximalist nightmare of indecipherable British-Caribbean-accented ranting and decaying breaks. And on "Billy Electron," Venger marries a beat that might be considered funky in some Orwellian future to slowly rotating, gyroscopic razorblade synths. Meanwhile, throughout the album, Milanese continues working in familiar style, his slow-moving, spacious pieces—particularly "Double Face," with its female vocal melody splitting into a nauseating dissonant harmony—providing temporary respite from the overwhelming physicality of the rest of the album.
Considering all of this, Adapt's conceptual homogeneity is remarkable. The music of Milanese seems to have corrupted these remixers, forcing them to adhere to its own twisted vision—a vision heavily influenced by nightmares of a grimly dystopian, technophilic urban future, in which humans are pursued through pitch-black streets by monstrous alien forms. Which is to say: Adapt is a work of cinematic prowess, consuming the listener in the morbid totality of its sound; an expert exercise in tension and release.
Reviewed by: Ben Good
Reviewed on: 2007-06-28