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Practically a decade after their debut, Ivy Lab—a.okay.a. London’s Sabre & Stray—nonetheless haven’t settled down. Each Sabre and Stray have roots in drum-and-bass and rave music, however their music is hardly a rote style train. Removed from it: their work lies someplace between chilly drum-and-bass, screwed-up bass burners, and modern hip-hop. Their type is in dialog with umpteen electronic-music traditions, however it’s beholden to none of them.
The group’s origins could be present in Critical Music, a British drum-and-bass label that acted as a hotbed for liquid, an outgrowth that pushed the style into jazzier and looser territories. (It’s no coincidence that Essential has additionally hosted Calibre and Zero T, two important names within the style.) Even in a crowded area, although, Ivy Lab’s work stood out. On Twenty Questions, a standout EP from this period, the group wraps style idioms in barbed wire, tangling rapid-fire percussion tracks with snarled, billion-ton basslines.
Practically each Ivy Lab launch has labored with an identical ethos, taking pre-existing sounds and twisting them into novel and weird kinds. Within the time since their debut, their type has solely grown extra singular: slower, heftier, a bit extra jagged. Now, they act as a bridge between seemingly disparate worlds, working at an intersection between SHADES’s tectonic-plate bass-trap experimentalism, Noisia’s kitchen-sink approach to the dancefloor, and Flying Lotus’s digital orchestras. A brand new Ivy Lab monitor might be old-school dubstep, diabolical drum-and-bass, or spine-tingling atmosphere; usually, it’s a number of of those directly.
Their newest document, Infinite Falling Ground, continues this wild-eyed strategy whereas pushing it into more and more outré territories. If earlier LPs have been in regards to the energy of a gut-punch synthesizer, this one is about what occurs if you dial issues again a bit. It’s indebted to the L.A. beat scene and an older-school type of experimental digital music, tracing a line from modern membership instruments to late-aughts drum-and-bass. They’re nonetheless trying in the direction of the dancefloor for inspiration, however now, Ivy Lab are interrogating its tradition and aesthetic with a newfound depth. Throughout a break in Sabre’s schedule, we acquired an opportunity to talk with him about Ivy Lab’s historical past, futurism on the dancefloor, and the interdisciplinary nature of nightclubs. – Michael McKinney
This interview has been condensed and edited for readability.