After years of flying the flag for the hardcore breakbeat scene, Brighton-based trio Try Unity have finally released their debut album "Neurons & Chemicals", and what a debut it is.
As much as band members Sammy "Radio Sam" Purcell, Francesca Purcell and Jim Shimmer clearly have a passion for the original rave scene this 8-track collection feels fresh, vibrant and more-importantly offers something new. They combine old skool influences with a contemporary musical sensibility to produce music that's exciting, mature and appealing to ravers new and old.
Title track "Neurons & Chemicals" kicks things off with a dream-like opening that swiftly gives way to a an energetic riff and crisp breakbeat. With it's balance of warm pads/strings and tough breaks/bass it echoes an Invaders-era Prodigy. There's a lot of variation in the production and as the first track on the album the band are setting out their stall early - this isn't going to be rave-by-numbers - this is an album with high production values.
Second track "Vibe Chasin" continues the pace with an incredibly infectious hook and bassline. The flow of this track is sublime and the central riff has a beautiful way of weaving in and out of the tune. The psychadelic hook in this tune reminds me of Sub Love's "Underground" - to my mind high praise indeed. This is a real contender for my favourite tune of the album - the vocal refrain "rave making, vibe chasing" will be stuck in your head for days!
"Love Into Light" slows things down a little and really brings the vocals front and centre. This is a beautiful piano and breaks tune with Fran's vocals taking the lead for the main part with an acid-era piano and hoover break in the final third. Think Rachel Wallace / Baby D and you're in the right ballpark.
Continuing the vocal focus, "When You're Gone" opens with a beautiful vocal before transitioning into a more hardcore production than "Love Into Light". The reece bass, staccato stabs and vocal samples give this a real old skool feel - proper down-and-dirty rave!
"Rushed Me" is an absolute banger of a tune - it's piano, stabs and funky breaks intro making it perfect dancefloor fodder. Approximately one minute in there's a classic rave-era breakdown with a warm string section that seems to hark back to Rhythm Section's "Dreamworld" - a blink-and-you-miss-it moment but goosebumps stuff nonetheless! The drum programming in this tune is tight and crisp - a testamant to the excellent poduction and mastering on display throughout the album.
Which brings us nicely into "Burning Up". Aah... "Burning Up" - a summer tune that occupies that magical space between day and night when the sun's just going down and the party's really starting to get lively. This is an outdoor festival tune with a lush warm bass and subtle production flourishes - Fran's vocals on this tune really elevate an already brilliant track to new heights. In much the same way as Kosheen's Sian Evans, Francesca Purcell is one of those vocalists who's voice totally enhances the genre. This is an uplifting and emotional tune with just the right smattering of bassface between the vocals!
"True Desires" dips it's toe into the realms of early happy hardcore and is no doubt a great addition to their live show. Pushing up the tempo when compared to the rest of the album, this a true party tune with a high-energy mix of kicks and breaks, scratch samples, piano breakdowns and an infectious vocal hook.
If after seven tunes you think you've got the measure of Try Unity they go and throw a curveball right at the end with "Unstoppable". It's driving, machine-like rhythm and classic house keys interplaying with the vocal message of peace, love and unity give the tune an almost Detroit techno quality despite the obvious difference in tempo. An excellent way to round off this excellent debut.
As debut albums go this is an excellent offering. I've played this album so much that my personal favourites have fluctuated with each new listen but I've go to say that "Vibe Chasin", "Rushed Me" and "Burning Up" never cease to bring a smile to my face and get feet moving. This is a genuine album in as much as it's greater than the sum of it's parts. I highly recommend you give it a listen and get those synapses firing!
The album is out now on 12" double-pack black vinyl complete with digital download, free Rave Radio Records sticker and a bonus Try Unity DJ mix of previously released tunes. The album artwork is courtesy of none other than Junior Tomlin himself.