Within the future beat collective and record label Black Marble Collective lurks the footwork powerhouse named Devin Andrew. Working under the name Dev79, this producer is known for tasteful and reflective experimental footwork bangers. On his new EP, Dev79 expands his horizons and actively takes steps to push the sound of footwork and 160 into new territory. With colorful and thought-provoking artwork from graphic designer Jess Audrey, Can’t Fit In A Box EP is meant to take Philadelphia-based dance music soundscapes and move beyond their confines.
Starting the EP with “You And I Is Us,” this track features MC Elixir delivering hard bars that loop in syncopation to the double kicks and rising sirens. The energy is constantly rising with the assistance of jungle percussions and warm bass hums pulsating outward. With sharp snare roles and ominous layers of ambient synths, this track ends with isolated kicks made extra pumpy by the tight mastering of footwork legend A.Fruit.
“215Alive” bridges the EP into its halfway point with sharp club stabs and grime motifs such as loading guns and snappy snares. The rhythm and syncopation of this track are creatively off-kilter but remain easy to bump along to. In the final movement, the track introduces mid-range basslines that help fill the space to deliver a thick wall of sound for a proper climax. Once the closing tail-end begins, the drums are crushed and swept into the high-end range with a final ambient pad as a reflective afterthought.
Dev79 tries steady beat and housey fixtures in track three, titled “Emerald Tree Boa,” the longest on the EP, clocking in at four minutes and 24 seconds. The track opens with snares and fuzzy basslines taking up the majority of the mid and high-end range; at the 25-second mark, the pounding kick is introduced to bring the track into the first of two major movements. Muted house hits give the track dancehall and vogue elements, these features are temporarily removed at the one-minute, 47-second mark where an interlude plays out. The second and final movement emerges after roughly 30 seconds, serving as the full realization of the track and all its ideas.
“Where Kings Are Bred” is an enigmatic and mysterious grime beat that has ominous synth stabs and growls that force the listener to think and reflect on the journey insofar. This final track gives off a feeling of regalia and subtle intimacy. The action briefly disappears around two minutes in; when it returns, the track moves into its third major movement. It ends with unintelligible dialogue before dissipating into nothing.
Dev79 has effectively managed to reorient grime, footwork, and club music into house iterations and dance music stylizations. With the backing of Black Marble Collective behind him, it can only be assumed this talented artist will continue to create unique and tasteful 160 BPM hybrids. This EP has shown that such reimaginings are indeed possible, and hopefully, more will come. Listen below.