Label and release date: Circadian Rhythms (2017)
Toasty’s Metal EP arrived following an almost ten-year hiatus from the near iconic dubstep producer. Despite such a long time below the surface, the EP is a brief but near perfect return and shows us that Toasty has continued to think about music throughout his time away, as the three outings here are mutated, refined offerings of the sound he possesses.
The intricate approach Toasty takes with each track can be heard whether a listener is familiar with music production or not. Synths and vocal samples are used in a manner that are unmistakably Toasty, melodically rough and characterising, but, with this EP, Toasty Boy has updated his sound while still managing to remain timeless. The title track, Metal, demonstrates this best.
It contains the futuristic and industrial sound choices that permeates dubstep, grime and bass-driven music; it’s alien, metallic, dark and warming. It has a mark that Toasty’s earlier tracks don’t, but it is difficult to pinpoint exactly what this is, which is an indication of the beatmaker’s growing experience in the writing of music; being able to add new qualities that aren’t easily realised but effective. The vocal sample in the track carries its breakdown and completes a song that at any moment feels like it might crumble under its own pressure. Bump, the final song on Metal, is a calm finish to the EP’s 15-minute journey. It is meditative, a stark contrast to Rebar, and is one of the most distinctive songs in the producer’s catalogue. A slow burning and patient track, Bump feels as if Toasty’s hiatus never occurred and is the kind of music he may have naturally went on to make even if he had been present for the years where he wasn’t. Similar to Metal in length and detail, it is a gripping listen, although it feels easier and lighter but still possesses the thick, bass-heavy weight that many of dubstep’s finest tracks are known for having. You could compare its soothing effects to songs by other artists known for more ambient or trip-hop orientated music, but Toasty gives it the kind of layers and an almost paradoxically safe yet claustrophobic atmosphere that you won’t find in the aforementioned genres.
Rebar, the middle of the EP, is the most energetic feature of the release and is a continuation of the several head-nodding instrumentals Toasty has created in his career. It is rich in breaks and synths, but the atmospheric waves, grainy touches and delicate sound selection give it the maturity that graces the rest of the EP and allows it to slot in perfectly.
Toasty has a reputation for quality over quantity and for consistently making excellent music. With roughly twenty years in music production (and a discography that is only a little more than just as many tracks) and no interview to date, Metal sounds as if the producer has finally given listeners an honest look into his mind. Its three songs are enough to get a message across, and the message is that making music of this kind and at this level takes time and requires care. Although, Metal’s biggest success is that through sound it shows us the weight of expectations on the musician’s shoulders is heavy – back-to-back quality releases create demands in fans at the expense of the artist – but that it doesn’t mean he cannot meet them, only that to do so takes patience, daring and confidence. In turn, this requires us to revisit his latest offering over time in order to appreciate the actions he has taken to stun, please and impress listeners who he has already wowed so many times before.
You can buy Metal here