‘Lowest Colour’ is a darker, deeper selection of live breakbeats from the Lifecycle trio – produced by Geoffrey Dent (also on DSP-warped electric guitar, manipulated live via controllers velcro’d to his axe) AKA Muni Manuka (signed to Ricochet Records [London] and Traum Schallplatten [Cologne]), joined by Letitia Austin on deep sub bass and Nick Holder adding live drums to the sequenced ‘90s rave percussion.
Formed in East London in 2013 with an obsession to bring spontaneous true live performance to the electronic music scene, Lifecycle approach the stage more like a defrosted prog rock outfit than your average dance act. ‘Lowest Colour’ takes direction of their previous release, ‘Last Colour’ (2016), to its logical conclusion. Oldskool breakbeat and rave textures begin to overshadow the traditional rock structures behind their sound. The detuned FM synth bassline of ‘No Stopping’ is a straight-up nod to the jungle scene, which brought the attention of The Jungle Drummer (London Elektricity) with whom Geoff and Letitia are now in the studio recording a faster, harder set of tracks with a pure Drum ’n’ Bass backbone.
‘No Stopping’ finds Geoff and Letitia layering harmonies over a minimal, jungle-inspired arrangement. Nick drives the track forward with a swung breakbeat groove over the dark, sliding bassline, channelling the raw, spacious energy of early 90s rave, wobbly FM synth bass and pounding tribal rhythms. ‘No Stopping’ is an inspirational call to keep on running towards your desires – that nothing can stop you getting what you want if you stick to your guns. As the song progresses, Geoff and Letitia’s harmonies intertwine and the message turns – that even when desires manifest in the real world, reality is often a disappointment. Is it best to drive yourself towards fantasies, not question your motivation even if they aren’t resulting in a happy reality? Keep on striving towards impossible dreams, or be careful what you wish for? Perhaps we would be happier, after all, to submit and live in the fantasy dreamworld of those motivational posters.
At first glance, ‘No Stopping’ is as uplifting as a motivational poster – but like many of the tunes from Lifecycle’s long-player ‘Lowest Colour’, the lyrics take a deeper, more cynical look under the surface.
‘Lowest Colour’ kicks off with ‘The Answer’, a sceptical look at alternative medicine over a choppy, driving breakbeat. ‘Given Away’ is spacious, progressive, and melodic, showcasing how the band manipulate their vocals live on stage to create a loose, improvised dub atmosphere. ‘The Optimist’ takes a dark electronica mood which the band build to a driving rock crescendo, drone pads and 808 kick drums being eclipsed by overdriven guitars and Nick’s pounding live drums. ‘Safety in Numbers’ showcases Lifecycle at their most organic – developing soundscapes on-the-fly with guitars and synths blurring together, live drums and rave breakbeats interwoven, held together by deep swells of bass guitar and then broken apart in an improvised digital freakout finale. ‘Circadian’ completes the selection with a downtempo, euphoric finish with themes of sunset, sunrise and rebirth distorted into a wall of glitchy electronica.