Village Voice, September 7th 2004
by Simon Reynolds
Drum ‘n’ bass always prided itself on being vanguard music, perpetually moving forward. Six years ago, though, the music reached a frenetic standstill, a treadmill churn of jacknifing beats and bass-riffs like endless anagrams of the same doom-blare notes. When lapsed believers (such as me) squabble with still-believers, it's like Led Zep fans arguing with Iron Maiden supporters: no, no, can't you see, it's not the same thing AT ALL!
Built entirely from tracks on his label Offshore, New York deejay Clever's mix-CD is so refreshing because it makes like the last six years never happened. The Offshore sound takes off from the genre's moment of supreme musical ripeness, when beats were densely micro-edited but still swinging: the hyper-syncopated drum talk and lush 'n' eerie textures of Source Direct and 4 Hero. New output from veterans of that time (Deep Blue and Justice, associated with once peerless label Moving Shadow) appears on Troubled Waters alongside tracks by brilliant younger producers like Paradox and Sileni (whose "Twitchy Droid Leg" is title of the year).
Seamlessly mixed (quite a feat given that almost everything Clever's young label has released is on this CD) Troubled Waters propels you on DJ culture’s proverbial “journey”--in this case, a thrilling ride across dark and light, frenzy and serenity. And Clever will be doing it live on Friday September 17 at Spill (196 Orchard Street), sharing the bill with Chris Walton of Inperspective Records--Offshore's London ally in the resurgence of breakbeats that actually break and basslines that move inside the groove.