30Hz - Electric Sheep
Mon 17th Dec, 2007 Music Reviewsin
The press pack accompanying 30Hz’ Electric Sheep boldly states, “This is what happens when dubstep, house, breaks and techno collide.” Sounds promising, bring it on! Hailing from Washington DC, James Ginzburg left his native country, friends and family for the dreary shores of the UK in 1998. As he settled into life in Bristol, he soon found himself working with a number of local acts and artists, producing hip hop beats with an electronic soul and trademark heavy drums. Soon he was drawn towards the then emerging nu-skool breaks scene – and 30Hz was born.
At the end of 2003, 30Hz founded the cutting edge breaks imprint Vertical Sound. Originally an outlet for his own dance floor workouts, the label quickly diversified to include other producers such as Smithmonger, Circuit Breaker, and Baobinga & Id. In 2004, 30Hz also co-founded the dubstep label Tectonic which has gone on to be amongst the most respected labels in the genre. 30Hz is also in demand as a mixdown engineer for numerous top acts in dance music. Other projects include being one half of dynamic duo The Body Snatchers and, under the name P Dutty, he’s contributed to the soundtrack to the dystopian masterpiece Children of Men.
2007 saw 30Hz sign to Meat Katie’s Lot 49 imprint and has resulted in his debut LP, Electric Sheep. Led by the vocal anthem Daddio featuring the vocal talents of Yolanda (who you might recognise from Bugs in the Attic and Massive Attack) the album demonstrates 30Hz’ broad musical interests and influences while keeping firmly rooted in the sound system experience.
Daddio kicks off the CD with some up-tempo UK vocal party breaks. The title track comes next and crunches its way through some grinding tech sounds with satisfying results. The production work immediately stands out. Electric Sheep is one to turn up loud! The sounds themselves are dense but are not buried in a complicated mix. The Beat Monkeys appear on the hip hop cut Subliminal Criminals with some smooth rapping. The dark edge to 30Hz’ sound follows a path through some minimal tech, harder edged breaks, and dubstep. Mutate is a slow, lurching beast that lingers long with sharp snares and a pulsating sub-bass.
On an initial listen this album was underwhelming, with the genre-hopping subtlety going over my head. Piece by piece, track by track, this kept sneaking into my CD player until the deep dark depths of Electric Sheep began to take hold. The twisted frequencies emerge and grow into a satisfying sonic scape that captures the attention.