The Mid Year Report launched last summer with the intent of spotlighting 10 artists within the realm of electronic music who share and represent the adventurous, independent spirit of NEST HQ. Similar to our end-of-year superlatives, the Mid Year Report recognizes those musicians who are outpacing their contemporaries due to fearless creativity and deliberate integrity, and this week, we’ll be discussing 10 artists who we believe are pushing the genre forward in 2017.
Read below for our Mid Year Report on Ivy Lab.
Drum ‘n’ bass has come back in a massively significant way over the past few years. More than that, the consistent ingenuity and innovation of the artists within has instilled in the genre a fresh sense of hope and a brighter future. Where veterans like Goldie and Andy C keep us grounded turning fresh takes on traditional styles, newcomers like Rockwell and 1991 are pushing the edges of what we expect from the community. Even legends like Noisia and DC Breaks are reinventing themselves in big ways. Artists like North London trio Ivy Lab, however, have gone so far out of their way to test the limits of drum n bass that they can rightfully be considered revolutionaries in a world that relishes tradition.
Sabre, Stray and Halogenix formed Ivy Lab back in 2013 after realizing that each one had formed a strong collaborative relationship with the other on separate projects — Stray started working with Sabre in 2009, and each of them began working on a side project with newcomer Halogenix unbeknownst to the other. Rather than keep their various duo projects separate, they saw the opportunity to bring their love of all things musical exploration and experimentation into one collective trio. From the roots of boundary pushing and drum n bass creativity, Ivy Lab was born.
Ivy Lab’s sound is a unique combination of various established dnb styles like minimal, liquid, and breaks all with added twists. Their style ranges from tracks like four-year-old minimalist jams “Afterthought” feat. Frank Carter III and “Oblique VIP,” more exciting static-filled rollers like “Gomeisa” and “Forex” off their 2015 Twenty Questions EP, and their most recent work that best showcases their limitless ambition — remixes of Noisia’s “Tentacles” and Banks’ “Fuck With Myself.” And then, just when you think you’ve got Ivy Lab figured out, they hit a home run through left field with tracks like their spastic remix of Icarus’ “Ride This Train” and jazzy boom bap bootleg “Indian Flute.” Their discography is a veritable grab bag of ‘what could possibly come next?!’
One thing has been made abundantly clear: everything they make is constructed with only the finest materials and crafted into beautiful near-priceless works of art. They are quality over quantity, and yet they still release new music quite consistently. In fact, their reach is expanding so quickly that in 2014 the group took their project to the next level, creating the 20/20 project. The concept was initially built as a London club night made for “the halftime movement,” but has since evolved into a label, collective, and traveling club night. Through 20/20, the trio helps showcase dnb’s most promising and revolutionary artists, both established and new.
What makes Ivy Lab so great and a seamless fit for 2017’s Mid Year Report is their consistence, persistence, and progress. They have come so far in such a short amount of time, establishing themselves as community mainstays — a feat that would normally take years if not decades for others to accomplish. “Pioneers” is a tough word that gets thrown around too loosely, but in Ivy Lab’s case it’s a rather gross understatement, particularly when it comes to evolving drum n bass for generations to come. If drum ‘n’ bass is good for one thing, it’s the endlessly growing and propagating garden of sub genres, and Ivy Lab have glowing neon green thumbs.