The intersection of rap and hardcore dance music has been fertile for years now with artists like Dark0, DJ NJ Drone and Drippin all putting a spin on everything from drill to gabber. As time has passed, some artists have expanded beyond the club track format to explore the outer reaches of the sound, digging into the interstices between era and genre with the goal of crafting narrative-rich long form pieces. Amsterdam’s Know V.A. in particular have impressed with their desire to draw substance from extended original pieces, releasing two separate editions on Signal Life (“RIP”) and DISPLAY (“Reification”) respectively. Those compositions utilize familiar forms (grime synths, 808s, trance riffs, dembow arrangements), but push towards abstraction, allowing reproducible tropes to extrapolate over a wider space. At times, the releases come across as a standard mixtape as tempos and energy is revved up, but the peaks and valleys of both tapes are unpredictable enough to allow the listener to consider their more nuanced qualities.
For their Astral Plane Mix, the Amsterdam duo has crafted an entirely new original piece, titled “Purity” and this time extended to 54 minutes. Fueled by the gabber and trance they listened to as youngsters, the piece takes on an epic quality, simultaneously exhausting and invigorating as it crescendoes over and over again. In a text sent over by the artists, the piece explores “losing the spontaneity of life and the randomness of nature” that follows a “drive towards perfection in the manufacturability of the outer world and the inner self.” That hyperreal emptiness is felt throughout “Purity” as layers of sheen crumble into grotesque noise and club constructions emerge, fizzle and burn. Unlike other sci fi-minded music though, Know V.A. smartly stray away from cliched vocals and narration, keeping the composition entirely instrumental and maintaining its all important sense of enigma. No track list but you can find more Know V.A. here.