Stateside Sessions: Drum and Bass, Vol. 2

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There are two types of drum'n'bass fans: those who are drawn to the music for its aggressive velocity and proto-hip-hop thugism, and those who are more fascinated with the sonic possibilities beneath the breakbeat storm. Empress is a DJ for the second group of listeners. Following the lead of San Francisco jungle queen Sage, Empress mixes the second edition of the Stateside Sessions series. And while no mention is made with regard to the sex of both contributing DJs, it certainly suggests a more feminine element of American drum'n'bass that doesn't rely on the hard-as-the-boys criteria placed onto U.K. woman DJs such as DJ Rap or Kemistry. Where Empress really thrives is in the mix. Tracks merge together effortlessly, almost sensually. The opening ambience of Polar slides into soaring vocal grooviness by DJ Damage. Rattling blocks charge up Substrata's "Skin," while the stop-start of Juju's "Tambor" pulls out the middle drum hits, leaving a stark tech-step that is mercifully free of any heavy-handedness. You won't find Empress using any bowel-wrenching bass drops or shocktifying samples to carry listeners' attention throughout this mix. Instead, she takes the high road, with clean and classy drum'n'bass that doesn't overthink itself, but doesn't play dumb either.

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