ShockOne – Universus


If you’re a keen Drum and Bass junkie then no doubt you’ll have come across the name ShockOne at some point.

Perth born and raised, now london based produced Karl Thomas aka ShockOne has released Universus; one of the strongest albums of 2013.

Regardless of whether you make music with a laptop or live band with instruments, a concept album is a difficult project to master.

One can find themselves straying dangerously into a world of excessive abuse of thematics, not to mention the song durations. But if you can hit the nail on the head, and let the tonality of your tunes do the talking, you’re on to something. On that note Universus is a fine example of an electronic concept album.

The mysterious topic of space has been a source of inspiration for musicians for years. From rock, jazz, techno, trance and now drum & bass, it’s interesting to see how each creative’s imaginations of the stars carriers out across their work.

Universus opts to chronicle the entire universe and piece together a fitting sound scape that listeners of all taste can identify with.

UKF were particularly excited about it, and were kind enough to release a promotional ‘album mix’ on their secondary channel, ‘UKF mixes’. It gives you a good taste of the many flavours this record’s been cooking with.

The LP tears though your cranium with the multi-tempo “Chaos Theory”. When stuck in ShockOne’s bass-madhouse, there is only one thing to do: “Get the f**k up!”.

From there, the full-length takes it a little easier on the inner-ear. Relapse and Big Bounce take much the same approach as Nero on 2011′s Crush on You, merging funky with a revival of 1980′s electro. ShockOne mixes that style with a bit of dub-reggae vocals on Harmonize — fusing one of dubstep’s origins with a progressive take on the subgenre. By the time “Universes” arrives, the bottom end of the mix has all but been eliminated. Universes momentarily borrows a jungle bassline, but is much more suited for an electro-house big-room than a dark underground rave.

The transition from Universes to Lazerbeam reflects the sonic shift that occurs at the onset of the disc. Featuring verses from London’s MC Kyza and additional production from Metrik, the track possesses a grime that has yet to be truly mastered by any American producer. The LP’s final three tracks (Age of Enlightenment, Light Cycles – Prelude and Light Cycles) ease the sonic tension generated by Lazerbeam over 15-minutes, until only clear piano strokes are left ringing through the speakers.

Whereas, many bass producers compress their tracks to the fullest possible extent and keep the volume pushing the redline, ShockOne has been behind the boards long enough to build a story with each release. Everyone’s life is compiled of moments ranging from great despair to sheer ecstasy, and so too is Universus.

Variety is the spice of life, and the choices of the world ensure good music will continue to be made in all genres, each for a different group of people who will appreciate that music and hopefully learn to accept other demographics and styles in the same way they should hope to be accepted as well.