Mella Dee, a producer with a rich, colourful production history, has seemingly found a home at Digital Soundboy and his debut beat-tape for the label, ‘Rhythm Nation Volume One’, scheduled for release on January 19th, represents his most absorbing and equally challenging transmission yet.
Building on the success of the emphatic ‘GT Turbo’, a moody, low-end monster of a track that joined the dots between the sound of UK rave culture and more contemporary drum-track production aesthetics, this is a tape that documents a real and very personal journey. Widely regarded for his contributions to house, garage, bassline and even grime, Rhythm Nation explores an accomplished, well-rounded Mella Dee - a producer who’s versatility and unrelenting willingness to experiment has seen him grow to adopt a unique approach to sound composition.
At eight tracks long, including a special VIP edit of the aforementioned ‘GT Turbo’, Rhythm Nation is full of crackly, synthetic beats - a body of work that feels as much inspired by the past as as it is by the future. From the classic rave sampling on gully opener ‘Helter Skel-ter’, itself an ode of sorts to the darker garage sound of the early 00s’, to the menacing, sub rumbles of classic 90s sampler ‘Heaven’, the sound is distinctly UK - and inescapably catchy.
The track titles - ‘Bring Love’, ‘Pandemonium’, ‘MK3 GTI’ - are all synonymous with the old rave aesthetic too, each adding their own twist to the formative sounds that Mella himself grew up with. Underpinned by the growling brand of low-end sub that Mella has made all his own in 2014, these are tracks that meld together classic elements within a setting all of his making. Not only is Rhythm Nation therefore a great reference point for just how far Mella Dee’s production remit has expanded and developed, but in true Digital Soundboy style, documents a key modern take on the relationship between UK underground music and the culture that defines it.