You can’t deny that Felix Manuel aka Djrum operates in the post-dubstep sphere, in the literal sense that this music just simply wouldn’t sound the way it does if dubstep never happened. But Portrait With Firewood is leagues more vivid than anything in its orbit; stunning in its visionary execution and therapeutic in its visceral gauntlet of sound. "Music helps me to communicate the sorts of things that I find almost impossible to put in to words. I think the process for this album has helped me create a more rich and emotionally complex body of work than I have managed before.” Taking inspiration from the works of performance artist Marina Abramovic, Manuel twists together syncopated techno beats and rolling breaks, patching in field recordings, vocals fragments and cello courtesy of Zosia Jagodzinska. Lola Empire lends her rain-smeared vocals to the porcelain start-stop rollage of “Waters Rising,” reminiscent of some vintage Foul Play or other related Audio Couture™. The drums are all meticulously programmed and pored over with care, but the quieter, more atmospheric passages are equally sublime, from the celestial rumblings of “Sparrows” to the dreamy “Unblocked” and “Blood In My Mouth” which bookend the album. The divine “Creature Pt. 1” starts with some jubilating piano chords before a sub burrows through in slow motion, breaking into Jagodzinska’s sombre cello over a bed of ambient field-recordings. “Creature Pt. 2” muses on similar musical themes, albeit stamped out into a smoldering ember by an assault of apocalyptic drums primed for club warfare. The album’s epic climax comes in the penultimate “Showreel Pt. 3”… picking up where the B-side of the Broken Glass Arch EP left off, Manuel sculpts a succulent mulch of ethereal drones and free jazz drums that cascades into a scorched gabber beat and later, total jungle tearout madness, like a CV for a producer capable of deploying any musical style he or she sees fit for sonic warfare. Released by R&S on black double vinyl, housed in full color printed inner sleeves with artwork by Michael Mitsas, recommended.
- black double vinyl pressing
- artwork by Michael Mitsas
- full color printed inner sleeves
- music label: R&S 2018
reviewed by military 2step 09/2018