Music » Livewire

Nu:Tone

With Still Life. Saturday, June 18, at the Mercury Lounge.

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As Nu:Tone, Dan Gresham specializes in melodic, uplifting drum & bass tracks that have thrust him to the front of the thriving liquid drum & bass scene, alongside his Hospital Records labelmates London Electricity and High Contrast. In simple terms, it's drum & bass for grown-ups -- breezy, musical, and much more approachable for outsiders than any of the growling, dancefloor-smashing tunes that typify drum & bass.

But don't mistake the accessibility of Gresham's hot first album, Brave Nu World, for the type of disposability inherent in other loungy or urbane offshoots of techno's subgenres. Gresham is a trained musician, and as such, he's scrupulous in his approach to writing. He prefers to start at a keyboard and work with vocal guests or key samples in order to find the kernel of a song and build the rest accordingly. "Seven Years," featuring fledgling jazz singer Natalie Williams, and "Heaven Sent," recorded with jungle MC SP, are fully fleshed-out compositions, with bass lines that dive and wobble in harmony with the vocals, and warm, house-style organs that bridge verses and choruses, instead of just riffing in the background. Gresham is still careful to craft drum loops and bass tones with the requisite precision to give die-hard drum & bass listeners the gratification they crave, and Brave Nu World rarely hits a note that sounds awkward or superfluous. Hopefully his DJing will tread a similarly balanced path.

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