2021 was a big year for Raleigh, North Carolina-based drum & bass producer Echo Brown. He released an EP entitled Struggles on Lenzman’s The North Quarter label, had songs featured on compilations from iconic labels such as Friction’s Shogun Audio and Alix Perez’s 1985 Music, and released “Gully Dance” featuring legendary grime MC Flowdan. One thing that jumped out with these releases was his versatility in the vein of his 1985 labelmates Monty and Visages—he’s shown he’s adept at making drum & bass that’s gorgeous and soulful in addition to more aggressive, bass-heavy dancefloor-ready songs.
His 2022 begins with Midnight Static, his second offering on The North Quarter. The R&B-influenced liquid drum & bass that’s become his trademark shows up on the EP’s first two tracks, “Motions,” featuring raps from [ KSR ], and “Nokia Days,” his first collaboration with label boss Lenzman. These do a fantastic job at hooking the listener in—he somehow manages to not only make these songs very pleasant but have them go hard as well—a combination that only a handful can pull off in drum & bass but he accomplishes that with ease here. The energy picks up considerably with “Kusanagi,” a darker and more percussive tune that’s guaranteed to go off at a warehouse party. “Countach” brings the soulful influences back but still retains the edge, and EP closer “Melancholy” slows things down with a halftime beat that wouldn’t sound out of place on an Ivy Lab release.
If you’re someone who’s recently gotten into drum & bass and want to see the versatility and high quality the US has to offer beyond the more neurofunk and dancefloor-oriented tracks you’d hear at an EDM festival, Midnight Static is the perfect release to check out. This release solidifies Echo Brown’s status as one of the best producers in the genre right now—no “American” qualifier necessary.
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