And so we skid into the end of our 2016 recap with plenty of belters not making the cut. It seems fitting that we would end 2016 with a Ytivil Dnuos release, even though Timedance was unquestionably the label that shaped the sound of things to come across the five flawless twelves released that year. After all, our narrative essentially starts in 2013, a year that saw the Livity triumvirate of Pev, Asusu, and Kowton all releasing twelves whose influence is still being heard today. Since that first run of twelves and the 2014 remix and live show victory lap, the label and Tom Ford (Pev) in particular have played an essential role in supporting the new breed of producers. Joe Higgins (L.Sae, Metrist) has noted the crucial role Tom and Livity played in supporting Batu and helping him to get his Timedance off the ground. When one considers the renewed energy with which vanguard dubstep labels like Hessle and Hemlock have roared back to life in the past two years and the continued exchange between the older and younger guard, it soon becomes clear that it's not just the younger generation that seems to have little use for genres or fitting into a particular style--even if critics insist on forcing them into the bass-techno box.
Though Via Maris’ Swarm was technically the last release on Ytivil at the start of 2017, for me the sublabel’s final essential transmission came in May of 2016 when the shadowy producer known as Forest West Drive made his debut with the System EP--wrapping a trilogy of crucial releases that year that also saw Randomer & Hodge's neo-tribal workout "Second Freeze" and Batu's booty bass stylings on "Bleeper Feed." Meanwhile, for this listener at least, Livity hit its first real dry patch with its 2016 release schedule. For as banging of a two-tracker as Asusu's Hallucinator was, "Sendak" in particular hitting its electro fastball out of the park, Simo Cell's Gliding EP failed to make due on the promise of his previous Ytivil Dnuos release while Kowton's debut LP Utility was simply too utilitarian to be a compelling home listen.
So thus we have "System," a track by a producer whose name is unknown but whose background seems to suggest a serious detour into D&B at some point, a piece of personal history that's come through on his releases for Rupture London and Felix K's techno-d&b hybrid imprint Hidden Hawaii. Following two especially well-received twelves for Livity this past year, Forest Drive West seems to have settled into a more convention production lane, peddling lengthy and tripped-out techno excursions for the big room massive. It can almost seem impossible that a producer whose seemingly lost the art of percussive subtlety as of late would be responsible for such a delicate and patient beat construction as found on "System," a track that starts off as unassuming as they come. Galloping in on a staggered triplet beat that shifts the weight of the first two kick to the front of each bear amidst the static sound of electricity burning in the hot Florida sun, the producer takes his sweet time in escalating this slow-cooker of a dance floor odyssey as a deep voice intones a message that soon becomes subsumed by delay, a melodic foundation emerging in the back of the mix. Where tracks like "Iron Lungs" seem to take place in zero gravity, thundering kicks echoing into the void, "System" breathes new life into the old cliche of dance music as ideal driving music; an immanent music given a plane to soundtrack. But it's not the road Forest West barrels down, but rather the Hadron Collider, its constituent atoms pinging back and forth at such a speed as to turn invisible, casting the track in a radiating glow. Patterns emerge and come into being just beneath the surface while the wind sits stagnant above ground, or so it would seem. And while the producer behind the Forest West Drive name has since moved into far more predictable and trad techno territory, 4X4 kick in tow, "System" and the B side "Come Out" briefly posited a brand of orbital techno in which dozens of sonic rotations worked in tandem, not in search of transcendence, but rather pure immanence of the present.