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BEATRICE DILLON Workaround gets 8/10


Beatrice Dillon
Workaround
PAN

8/10

After establishing herself as an A-list alternative DJ in the 2010s, Beatrice Dillon has used her deep knowledge of bass music to craft a fine debut LP for the PAN label. Workaround is ostensibly an electronic dub album, with a clutch of the classic dub signifiers and global touches sprinkled throughout. But it’s much more too, with fine details that give the bass and percussion a sparkle and shine, reflecting a wider natural environment she draws from that playfully glints over the album’s 40 minute duration.

While evolving into a club DJ, Dillon worked at various London record shops and wrote a thesis on Harry Smith, the folk archivist active in the early 20th century. In contrast to her extremely broad musical pallet, interestingly every single track on Workaround flows along at 150 bpm; to put that tempo in context – techno/house/breakbeat is typically 127 bpm; drum’n’bass and hardcore from 160–200 bpm. Thus, the music moves along at a brisk pace, but Workaround’s spaces and sparse sound make it sound decidedly unhurried.

The tunes are both heavy and light, subterranean and ethereal simultaneously. Unlike most dub music with reverb and echo effects, Dillon has liberally employed gates – filters that clip the sound if less than a certain amplitude – to create a dense, precise sound. However, the music still maintains a sunny disposition throughout. In many ways, it follows the dub experiments of German producer Stefan Betke’s Pole project and other ‘dubtronicists’ in its minimalistic ethos, but Dillon opts for more of a view that looks up to a sunlit sky rather than a head-down, head-nodding late night dub science approach.

The record is comprised of tracks mostly entitled Workaround One, Workaround Six, etc., with a few meriting their non-eponymous titles. The majority of the tracks are of typical pop song length – three to four minutes – with a few shorter and longer deviations, especially the non-Workaround-titled tracks. Several guests chip in on Workaround, most notably Laurel Halo on Workaround Two, where you can hear her washed out synths and voice like beams of light from a hazy cloud that’s drifted temporarily in front of the sun.

Other highlights include Workaround Eight and Clouds Strum, the latter based on a series of sonorous bass notes that subtly stretch and mutate, with deft percussion and just enough synth stabs to fuel the track along. On Workaround Six you can hear only some simple beats and the resonant strings of an upright bass, but somehow it stays together to create an intriguing vignette. Square Fifths is propelled along by the snaps of a tabla and some rave-inspired manic synths, underpinned by more stretched-out, warbling bass notes to hypnotic effect.

Workaround comes at a perfect time for summer. Although coming from a musicologist’s mind, Workaround is nevertheless languid and relaxed, backed by some buoyant dub pressure. The music is also sinewy and curved as well, giving it a certain sumptuousness and sexy cool, making Beatrice Dillon’s debut just thing you may need for hazy summer afternoons and into the starlit evening.

PAUL DOUGHTY

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