Since he started the eternally cool and somewhat clandestine label Sub-liminal Recordings back in 2015, the artist known as Agro likely hasn’t had a lot of time for his own releases. Sub-liminal has been a champion of all things underground, finding artists and curating releases that the larger and more popular side of the D&B scene might miss. The Brighton-based label with Agro at the helm has given come-ups to the likes of Damage Report, Warhead, Flowdan and DJ Hybrid in its seven years of operation, and Agro contiunes to find bass gems in unlikely places.
In the imprint’s first couple of years, Agro did apear on many of Sub-liminal’s collab EPs as well as firing off a number of one-off or two-off single drops, but in the last couple of years, it seems he’d been focusing more on taking care of his artists. That is, until the last few months. With a string of collabs, a remaster and “Part 2” of his seminal 2017 track “Noise Complaint” and an EP teaser in the form of a Taxman remix of another Agro classic “Bad from Morning,” it seemed he was gearing up for something big.
Enter Agro’s upcoming EP, the aptly named Digital Armshouse, due out this Friday, September 2. Only Agro’s second EP on his own imprint since 2015, he’s released a number of EPs on other labels like Pick the Lock and Gradient, but this collection is rightfully at home with Sub-liminal. An epic six tracker, Digital Armshouse truly is an arsenal of bass weaponry Agro has likely been collecting and creating over time, waiting to unleash it on the world.
Contaning the afore-mentioned Taxman remix, a jumpy, jungle-laced compliment to the original “Bad from Morning” highlighting Flowdan’s tight-as-fuck flow skills, Digital Armshouse opens with an equally ameny title track which also has hints of darkstep. Agro’s style has always been about cheeky nods to the old school, combining elements like heavily syncopated snares and darker-than-dark bass in ways that make them sound modern and danceable for today’s crowd. That style is on full flex in Digital Armshouse, with each track tighter, steppier and amenier than the last.
Our YEDM premiere today may actually be the steppiest track on the EP, “I Blacked Out.” Dare we say bordering on modern jump up in its beat structure, “I Blacked Out” is surprisingly quite minimal in its composition once you break it apart. The things that make it feel more robust are the heavy sound design, snappy snares and another surprising element, a lovely drone which makes its appearance in the middle of each phrase. Who from any era of D&B doesn’t love a good drone? The amens are also minimal on this track, so that gives the bass elements space to really take over the track, marrying with the sample to create something a bit otherworldly and, with that drone in place, a musical equivalent to actually blacking out. Its soothing and dancefloor-friendly at the same time, and we’re here for it.
Hopefully Digital Armshouse is the beginning of Agro releasing loads more once again on Sub-liminal Recordings, as his style is clearly suited to the label and in fact probably drives it more than he realizes. Either way, fans can always expect the impeccable A&R of Sub-liminal and the jaunty style of Agros for a long time to come, and they will most likely cross paths again. In the meantime, we have this Digital Armshouse stocked full of bass.