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Noisia Split the Atom Review

Album. Released 2010.  

BBC Review

Debut album from Dutch drum‘n’bass trio is sure to attract converts to their cause.

Alistair Lawrence 2010

With both The Prodigy mounting a triumphant comeback and Enter Shikari fulfilling their promise with an excellent second album last year, the spotlight has once again swung round onto the symbiotic relationship that rock and dance music sometimes enjoys.

Dutch trio Noisia are the latest name to emerge from the latter’s underground, threatening to cross over into mainstream consciousness. With good reason, too – their contribution to the Fabriclive series was all of suffocating, unrelenting and uplifting in places, with hard edges sharpened by their own imagination as they mixed mostly their own material for almost 70 high-quality minutes.

Split the Atom, their first album proper, can be heralded as a success, although perhaps not entirely for crossover reasons. Lead-off track and first single Machine Gun quickly establishes a series of peaks and rushes, all growling synths and rubbery reverb before an aggressive drumbeat that DJ Shadow would be proud of emerges to carry it home. The following My World doesn’t so much switch gears as kill the ignition and roll into a layby: the chanteuse vocals supplied by Giovanca hark back to the early days of trip hop. In comparison it sounds slightly dated, but what follows secures it in place as another tile in Noisia’s musical mosaic. Interludes like S***box and Headknot boil electronica to its bare bones, leaving the title-track and Red Heat to build the album’s momentum up again after them, respectively. The latter’s bendy, broken riffing is another highlight.

Two separate appearances from London grime collective Foreign Beggars comprise another wise move. Their rambunctious, breathless MCing fits the hectic tone of Shellshock and squelching stomp of Soul Purge meaning that, despite weighing in with 19 tracks, Split the Atom boasts enough variety, changes of pace and nods to the genres that help build Noisia’s unique identity without ever feeling forced. The one thing it isn’t is wilfully commercial, but those listeners who struggle through the more trying, less edifying moments of this collection – its final chapters are frequently heaving, off-kilter and dense – will likely remain devoted converts.

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