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A Magazine for Sheffield

Seven Lies

In April last year, Djrum featured as part of the Resident Advisor weekly mix series. Rather than being a uniform progression of songs, the 45-minute long piece was a complex and beautiful soundscape, described by RA as "a soundtrack to an imaginary film". This apt description sums up perfectly the sound that Felix Manuel has offered to the world of electronic music. His productions refuse to sit still, incorporating aspects of dub, techno, garage, hip hop and jungle, seasoned with ambient effects and quirky samples from old films.

Manuel's distinctive brand of cinematic, expressive music found widespread acclaim with the release of the Mountains EP for 2nd Drop Records in 2011. Heralded by musical contemporaries such as Giles Peterson and T++ as one of the best electronic releases of that year, it was followed in the same vein by Watermark in 2012. Given the quality and impact of these two releases, it is no surprise that Djrum's debut album has been so hotly anticipated. This month sees the release of Seven Lies on the record label that gave Manuel his deserved reputation.

Seven Lies comes packaged with all the expected hallmarks of Manuel's productions - yearning pitched vocals, antique string samples and colourful splashes of melody throughout. Most of the tunes clock in above the six-minute mark, but repetition is not a concept to be found in abundance on this album. Characteristically of Djrum, the songs transform and elaborate, nuanced and subtle in character. Tempos shift, percussive and melodic elements build and then fall away. Highlights include 'Honey', which appeared on his RA mix. Unfolding, broken percussion sits underneath a canvas of vocals and Manuel's trademark strings. Opener 'Obsession' uses dub chords and a half-time techno beat to produce a brooding, moody atmosphere. But Manuel doesn't forget about the dance floor - 'Arcana (Do I Need You)' provides a bit of 2-step energy amidst an otherwise fairly laid-back album.

Djrum's sound is difficult, near impossible to put into a box, and why should we bother? Many producers are heralded for their versatility and ability to travel between genres with each new production, but Manuel successfully manages to create a sound that is his own by consolidating many different genres into every piece of music he writes, each one its own project. His productions transcend the conventional notion of genre to produce tracks that are much greater than the sum of their parts, an effect that is not lost on this album.