Album Reviews

Dieselboy – The Dungeonmaster’s Guide

(human imprint) UK release date: 21 June 2004

This handsomely packaged CD takes the form of a fantasy game – the Dungeonmaster is introduced as someone who “has a challenging and often difficult task to perform”. The man doing the dungeonmastering, Damian Higgins, has put together a tough and energetic mix. No doubt he intends to complement the brave claims in the foreword and preface(!) that detail the mix as a year in the making and a “soundscape that is lush, dynamic, detailed, vivid, unique and, most importantly, interesting”.

He’s right on that one – once the sheer tempo has you by the short and curlies it doesn’t relent. After an indulgent prologue, encouraging the listener to “unlock the sound of pure drum and bass fantasy”, the mix unfolds to the deceptive ambience of the Cartridge track End Of The World. As the beats fly in and the contemplative nature of the track disappears, it’s time to fasten the seat belts for the cutting bass of Break’s Accelerate.

Dieselboy’s attention to melody and/or rhythm ensures the mix is always on the move, and even when it descends into more industrial, noise based tracks in the middle there is usually something to hold the listener captive. Raiden’s Infection, in a remix from E.Sassin, demonstrates a kind of thrash kick drum which could almost be from Slayer, mixed up with the noisy clatter of percussion that characterizes much of the CD. This moves into the Kaos & Karl K take on Sasha’s Immortal, an excellent bass propelled groove with a sinister breakdown, the treble rising out of the ashes.

The industrial section won’t necessarily appeal to fans of softer d & b from LTJ Bukem and the like, as tracks from Teebee & Calyx, BT, Dub Friction and the Usual Suspects, almost all in remix guise, seem to concentrate more on noise at the expense of melody. This isn’t a criticism – each track has something distinctive and interesting, but it nonetheless proves the most difficult part of the mix to listen or relate to.

Tiesto‘s Flight 643 brings us back to atmospheric chords and one of the few vocals, setting the controls for the final straight, led by Concord Dawn and Decorum. The spectacular finish comes courtesy of Dumonde, rounding things off on a high.

Dieselboy is no stranger to a compilation – this is the eighth installment in his personal mix series. In it he finds his range, producing a work full of splintered beats, rough bass lines and plenty of hooks. Not for the faint hearted though!

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Dieselboy – The Dungeonmaster’s Guide