Commix CommixDusted (Selected Works 2003-2008)
Commix' complete works would take up a great deal of the space in an Expedit shelving unit: from 2003 to today, the Cambridge duo have been working non-stop in a very ungrateful field of music, modern drum'n'bass, protected by the many fans who still believe in the genre, but misunderstood, misheard, and even ignored outside of that comfort zone, even more so if you take into account the people who moved away from the scene and over to garage, dubstep and the myriad sub-genres born after that. It makes things harder for Guy Brewer and George Levings, who, to add insult to injury, make a brand of drum'n'bass that time has almost forgotten: they're the heirs of groups like E-Z Rollers and Aquasky, and DJs like Blame and Fabio: their breaks roll smoothly, their bass lines are mercurial, they are the last liquid funk warriors alongside the heroic artists on Hospital Recordings' roster.
As said, between 2003 and 2008 Commix' output was huge: singles on labels like Tangent, Aquasonic, Good Looking (and sister label Looking Good), Creative Source, Hospital and Exit, until they landed on Metalheadz in 2005 with “Urban Legend / If I Should Fall”. Since then, they've been almost entirely faithful to Goldie's imprint. Metalheadz released “Call To Mind” in 2007, an album misheard when it came out, but which has since come to be a classic, and since 2008, things have been rather quiet for Commix: they contributed to the Fabric mix series, summoned a group of top-notch remixers (including Burial) for “Re:Call To Mind”, and took things easy, now that the hard part was over. “Dusted (Selected Works 2003-2008)” may seem a complacent compilation, given the title, the kind of album released to kill some time before the new LP comes out, but it isn't— if anything, it's a sign of the tremendous effort the twosome has made to get to where they are. When they were working on “Call To Mind”, they recorded an almost obscene amount of material: track after track after track of shining drum'n'bass, with rolling breaks reaching supersonic speeds, like the tunes on LTJ Bukem's brilliant “Logical Progression” and “Earth” compilations, back in the day. What ended up on the album had passed extreme scrutiny, which is why “Call To Mind” is now a classic drum'n'bass album: it was never a turn towards the future, but it was a very wise reflection on the past.
What was left on the cutting-room floor now surfaces on “Dusted”. It is, therefore, neither the anthology of Commix' Metalheadz years, nor an overview of their rise to their peak, but a document about how with hard work and an iron fist you can reach the top. The material that didn't make the album is quality, but it's more predictable, more tied to their sources of inspiration, with an abundance of jazzy pianos, passionate female vocals, like a debuting artist (and many of these tracks are from their very early days, possibly even some of their very first productions) who's learned the last stage of the Moving Shadow label by heart, and some of Roni Size's more adult-orientated efforts. And even so, the album goes down splendidly, sweet to the ear and hard on the feet. Because even though this is lesser material, only High Contrast and Calibre have been able to rival Commix in all this time, and not because the rest are bad: to be as good as the Nookies and PFMs of this world (and even Matrix, Trace and Ed Rush: “Audience” and “EXP” are pure neuro-funk) doesn't just come naturally.