Totemic, otherwise known as the Toronto, Canada-based DJ/violinist/producer Doug Penny, conjures Old World spirits and New World drive on his engaging drum & bass and deep bass music. ‘Soulless electronica’ is an oxymoron to Penny, who thoughtfully infuses his hypnotic but dynamic electronic tunes with intricate sonic interplay and live violin lines that give a more ‘human’ voice to his compositions. On occasion he blends fleeting touches of actual human, processed vocal fragments into the mix.
With a tip of the hat to the past and an eye toward the future of the drum & bass genre, Penny’s upcoming four-track EP Falling is slated to drop May 17 via the official Totemic Bandcamp and was mastered by Schematic Sound.
“Static Blitz” is an absorbing D&B number that juxtaposes loops of sinuously weaving violin lines with sharp electronic reverb and fast-clacking and -ticking percussion and beats. Streaks of growling electronics roar through the track like a jungle cat on the prowl amid the fluttering and frittering rhythmic sonics.
The haunting, cliff’s-edge swan dive vibe of “Devil’s Heart” plunges deeply into a lively smattering of echoed, clattering, machine-like percussion. The gleaming and shimmering sounds flash by like little sizzles of electricity sparking against the pitch-black night.
EP title track “Falling” gets funky with sporadic spurts of wordless shouts; fitful, bright electronic blips; and quickly shuffling percussive agitation which is pitted against slower, contemplative piano notes and drum thumps, the creeping sweep of subdued synths, and the pulsing shadow of pulled strings.
The false calm at the dawn of “Endless Dream” relaxes with lightly plucked, mid-range harp-like notes, but then tenses up with the contrast of an ultra-rapid and über-nimble hand drum beat and an ominously noir, encroaching electronic atmosphere. The urgency of the restless but flowing hand drums takes over for a spell before suddenly disappearing. Super-sized shaken percussion, winding synth curves, and tocking wood notes take its place until the intense, rapid-fire hand drums return, along with crisply clacking percussion, pushing the fever dream ever forward.
SPILL ALBUM REVIEW: TOTEMIC – FALLING EP