aka Dom and Roland, Signal to Noise, Neotech, Dark Master, Known Unknown, Monik, Touch. The list could add a few more of his aliases.
Dom was one of the first 3 records I bought when I decided to become a dj. It was “The Planets” release on Moving Shadow. I have been a fan ever since. Moving Shadow, Saigon, 31 Records, Quarantine, are just some of the labels he has released an incredible catalog of music on. I am not forgetting Audio Couture and his own DRP label.
ICEBERG still crushes!!!!!
I could easily say that Dom is in the top 5 artists of all time in Drum and Bass for his music and behind the scenes work as an engineer like the legendary Optical. Dom’s productions are known by many to be on the darker side of things but I never found him to be that way. I found the sound and production he does expands on the deeper scope of the genre but pulling from obvious influences, especially hip hop, sci-fi, maybe a pinch of horror in that. Dom is a master of the amen break and continues to impress with it 20 years + after his first release. Reading upon Dom signing up with Metalheadz to release new music was a match I thought nearly 20 years overdue.
I could go on for a bit about the Unofficial Jah / Outta Endz release and VIPs later on but I will not. MASSIVE is all I will say about those.
Dom is an obvious perfectionist with his work and looking at his back catalog many others who have been in this game as long as he has have more but not as consistent quality and groundbreaking music. This is the point that I get to discuss his debut album on Headz, “Last Refuge of a Scoundrel”
The title is part of a phrase from British Man of Letters and founder of the “The Patriot”, Samuel Johnson. Johnson wrote a piece about false patriotism which included the famous phrase, “Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel.” I feel this phrase easily has relevance to the Drum and Bass scene and its internal strife/struggles but that is another topic for another time. Not sure if Dom drew the title from this but it does ring very true to the state of DNB.
Last Refuge is simply brilliant from start to finish. Dom has always been at the forefront of breaks, atmosphere, and vibes within the music. This album is like a combination of all my favorite past releases that have come back, met the newest technology, and been maximized to complete artwork instead of sketches of sound. That is not saying those releases were not complete at all, they are just born again in a vigorous and electrifying format. “Inna Soul Jah” took me back to the “Mechanics” release on 31 and to tracks like “The Storm” or “Hydrolicks” on Moving Shadow. An absolute dancefloor amen punisher that is business and no small talk.
Details, Details, Details.
I could hear the essence of Dom’s debut, Industry, all throughout this album and subsequent albums while listening to this other last few weeks to wrap my head around it. It’s the aspects of Dom’s style I have respected the most just done at the highest bar he has set yet. Dom’s productions had straightforward melodic presence but he has really stepped this album with deeper and more resounding tones and sounds that make this album one for the club as much as kicking back at home and putting on the headphones.
“King of the Hustlers” has some dope samples from some favorite hip hop flicks some of sample junkies will recognize and is just on it.
The vocal tunes are pretty much the only collab cuts on the album besides the colossal juggernaut DMT featuring US DNB legend Hive that has finally seen release. I can easily remember Hive battering a version of this during a gig I played with him back in the 00’s. Robert Manos kicking the album off on “Sirens Song” is absolute choice for the first cut and gets you locked in for what will be a joyous ride through the mind of one of DNB’s greatest engineering minds. Natalie Duncan puts in another delicious performance for the rocking “Sacrifice.” People are going to be singing that one for sure in the coming weeks.
It’s the details like I said earlier that had me listening to this with heaphones extensively to hear all of the amazing detail put into these tracks. The breaks and chop work done combined with the elements of each song just make for an incredible piece of work to take in. I have immense love for “ A New Renegade” and its slow build to have those classic hardcore vibes mixed in with that Jungle tweaked to a modern DNB sound. The Mentasm getting torqued out and stuttered is just mad. I LOVE IT!!! He lets the breaks ride in different tunes as they used to but not so much anymore. It was nearly 2 minutes into the tune before the break smacks you and you just got get a whistle and have at it.
The most important aspect of this album for me that Dom has in this album and always has had in his music is SPACE. The breaks roll out and just let the other pieces of the music paint that picture of sound and not change every 30 seconds like some DNB does nowadays. The tunes build so lovely and come in when you are screaming for it. “Innersense” is my favorite tune off the record as I am writing it. The strings come in and out over that break rolling and its just doing that. Rolling. Vibing. Letting me enjoy the piece and engage in the overall wall of sound it creates. Last Refuge does create a wall of sound vibe for me by not cramming so much into a small window of time. The music breathes with energy that is present on every tune.
“Rockers” is a beast that gives me some Saigon Dom vibes with the rasta samples in it to wobbly bass and a stepper break slapping you with a Dillinja sounding snare cracking the air. I could have seen this be with Unofficial and Outta as an EP.
“Outcast” takes me back to Dom’s collabs on Moving Shadow/Audio Couture which cements him for me as DNB’s greatest collaborator. Quadrant 6? The Vandal? Say no more. You will get me hearing this stepper do its damage so be sure to get a proper neck brace. Another favorite cut of the album. I still bring out my favorite one he did many don’t know was him and Ed Rush, Neo-Tech.
“Steam” closes out the album as an absolute banger. Edited amens just raging in some early 00’s styled b-lines going for the throat. Tune is going to destroy it and I love that is unforgiving.
There are 12 tracks on this incredible release. Headz has released some great samplers for this album but do not be stupid and not pick this album up. It is essential listening. Dom has smashed a lot of albums this year with this one and its been an incredible year of DNB albums coming out delivering fantastic music. Its drum and bass of the highest order, quality, and execution. Top notch.
Cheers to Dom for this one.
Bonus and update
Fantastic interview between Goldie and Dom.