As the dubstep genre continues to establish itself as the U.K. club scene's most exciting new sound, the plethora of garage, jungle, and drum'n'bass artists who are hopping on its bandwagon shows no signs of slowing down just yet. Following in the footsteps of Chase & Status, Nero, and Sub Focus, London-based producer James Boyle, aka Breakage, is the latest dance act to incorporate the spacious minimal rhythms, huge wobbly basslines, and soulful vocals formula of the subgenre into his signature sound with his second album, Foundation. Although there are still smatterings of the drum'n'bass vibes he perfected on his impressive debut, This Too Shall Pass, such as the aptly named "Old Skool Ting," a frenetic fusion of skittering beats and chopped-up vocal samples, and the atmospheric title track, the majority of its 16 songs veer into brooding dub-heavy 140-bpm territory. Whether it's a natural progression or a calculated reinvention remains to be seen, but the authenticity of Boyle's sophomore outing is undoubtedly boosted by a whole host of guest appearances that would make even the likes of Top Ten regulars Magnetic Man green with envy. The dubstep sound's pioneer and Mercury Music Prize nominee Burial turns up on production duties to lend his trademark blend of ethereal synths and blurry pitch-shifted vocals to "Vial," the album's most chilled-out number; the stabbing synths and dancehall-inflected grooves of "Run ‘Em Out" are complemented by the big and brash MC skills of U.K. hip-hop veteran Roots Manuva; and Dizzee Rascal cohorts Newham Generals provide a claustrophobic if occasionally humorous edge to the bravado-fueled grime of "Hard." The compilation vibe continues with a slew of lesser-known collaborators such as retro-soul vocalist Zarif on the old-skool garage of "Over" and John Legend sound-alike Donae'o on the album's highlight, "Speechless," an unsettling but inventive fusion of menacing synth basslines and prog rock guitar solos. Apart from the industrial ambience of "If," the four brief interludes unnecessarily interrupt the flow of the album, while "Temper" is an awkward attempt at sonic paranoia. But on the whole, Foundation is a cohesive and adventurous change in direction that suggests Boyle is capable of tackling any dance subgenre he fancies having a crack at.
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