From the London based trio Ivy Lab, composed of artists Sabre, Stray and Halogenix, and Belgian-born Alix Perez, the Arkestra EP is here to win you over. Working collaboratively on the new 5 track release (including a 6th on the digital bonus), they successfully craft an EP that represents balance, artistic talent and the sought after organic emotion that is lacking in most of what we hear from electronic music today. These gentlemen have been killing the game in recent years, each with success in various areas of the industry. After releasing their debut album 20/20 Volume One last year, Ivy Lab have made huge strides, including the launch of their own label and club night ’20/20’ in London. Perez, along with earning respect from a diverse range of music fans through numerous releases, teamed up with Eprom as ‘Shades’ and has been touring as the dynamic duo. Alas, in this vortex of energy it seems only natural that a collaboration between these forces would arise.
Ivy Lab says the collaboration was almost inevitable. "Certainly it was a natural collaboration since we’ve all been friends and supporters of each other’s music for a while now; Gove (Sabre) and Alix were even making tracks with each other back in 2007."
Perez adds, "We're all pushing this Halftime / beats thing and have both been producing similar types of Drum and Bass over the years. We're very like-minded in that sense and we took this opportunity to push ourselves as artists and combine forces into a record."
And combine forces they did.
Elegantly crafted and soulful yet still hard-hitting, each track is well rounded and sophisticated, but also contains the rougher beats and grittiness we love.
The first track on the EP, ‘Maiden’, channels a satisfying amount of soul through perfectly blended drums and a warm bass, laced with vocals that ooze with feeling. Inviting and bright, yet almost melancholy.
"We wanted to strike a balance between cementing the soulful rolling sound we’ve each become known for whilst taking a glimpse into the future with the halftime tracks," says Ivy Lab. "There’s also an overarching emphasis on sound design permeating through all the music on the release; we like to merit a tracks length and be purposeful with how ideas transition into one another."
'Arkestra’, the title track, starts off with a strong break-beat foundation and proceeds to roll in with bass and characteristic vocals that carry along dreamy synths. The kind of track that will keep you dancing, and with the perfect amount of intensity.
Jazzy and light piano notes are prevalent in ‘The Last Light’, but by no means does this make it mellow. Accompanied by somewhat of a pulsing bassline and sharp percussion, the musical bits of this track make it a very full and artful piece. As Perez describes, "If anything, the aim was to produce an honest collection of music that reflected past, present and future," and this collective goal is definitely apparent here.
The next track takes it up a notch. Guaranteed crowd mover ‘Tell Dem’ drifts away from the lighter side and takes us deeper, preparing us with a mechanical and enticing atmosphere before unleashing a drop you could describe as ‘filthy’. In a good way of course. Think dark warehouse and huge vibes.
Also sure to leave the dance floor a mess, ‘Stop It’ combines watery sounds and driving vocal bits backed by a massive beat. The balance between all sides of their sound remains intact and the half-time banger holds impressive depth.
"Big L is one of, if not my favourite rapper of all time," says Perez when discussing the route they took when producing 'Stop It'. "I'm happy that we managed to flip a slice of him into this track as well as the contrast of light and dark throughout."
Ivy Lab recognizes the distinct range of the track: "…it bangs in a dance whilst featuring some subtler melodies and grooves that make it ripe for headphone listening.
Even more impressive is that these guys have managed to convey all of their personal touches into the music, which could potentially get confusing.
When this many artists come together, it can be difficult to iron out a single direction to take a track, but Ivy Lab says that was never an issue. "We tend to utilise virtually all possible combinations and methods; various combinations of 1,2,3 and sometimes all 4 of us together in the room and we also send stems back and forth between studios as well. This is what allows us to get the most out of working with such a large number of people on any given track as it makes it possible to incorporate each person's working style."
The group of producers have churned out an exquisite batch of tracks, a cohesive collection with each track also standing strong on it's own. With a product like this it's easy to see more coming from this team in the near future. "…we get the music written with relative ease and we do it justice. So definitely the collaboration won’t be stopping at this EP."
Perez can definitely notices the significance of the collaboration as well. "I think we struck a good balance throughout…it's been a well-rounded collective effort and combination." With this kind of reassurance, we know theres a lot to look forward to in the future.
Overall, the Arkestra EP begs more products of an amazing collaboration, succeeding not only in combining the themes and skills of 4 different artists, but showcases those skills in a way that is tasteful, heavy-hitting and memorable.
Listen for yourself and buy it here.
Much thanks to Ivy Lab and Alix Perez for sharing with us!