It’s been two years since Bastille released a collaborative mix tape and despite the pre-eminence of their incredibly original and incredibly illegal predecessors, this album manages to remain surprisingly original. You wouldn’t have blamed them for being hesitant to stray from the sound that defined them and gave them a dedicated fan base. But that’s what they’ve done.
Ever since the first track, ‘Torn Apart’ was initially deputed by Zane Lowe, hope for what was to come was inspired, as, while being somewhat different to what came before, it still retained some of the essential Bastille sound, reminiscent of their earlier work. This however, was just a small taster for what a departure the mix tape would offer.
All the tracks themselves have a wealth of varied and creative artists. With the likes of HAIM, MNEK, Skunk Anansie making appearances on some of the bigger tracks like ‘Bite Down’, ‘Bad_News’, and ‘Remains’, they retain an excellent balance between Bastille and their collaborators. The additional smaller artists like Lizzo, Grades, Angel Haze, Tyde, and Rationale, all add a creative edge to the music, an addition that assures us Bastille are fully versed in the non-mainstream.
In order to ensure a more defined move from Bad Blood, a lot more of their sound is rooted in DJ techniques and techno embellishments rather than their conventionally more instrumental work. Most of the songs include a variety of effects, like vocal manipulation, and it’s all crossfades galore. A high point on the album is ‘The Driver’ – part of Radio 1’s rescore of Drive. It’s ambient and heavily distorted yet retains the orchestral and grandiose Bastille sound, fitting the film well.
The developments they’ve made are certainly intriguing. I’ve always held the belief that if bands do what they aim to do, not what their fans want, then they can do no wrong. Since interviewing Bastille, it’s been apparent through listening to their music that they’ve never seen themselves as confined to one style or one way of making music; they love to play around with their sound and the latent potential of their instruments. A great example is ‘Weapon’ that sees the return of previous associate F*U*G*Z adding an extreme effect-based manipulation to Bastille’s original tracks, using their knowledge to form developments and constructions on their lyrical and instrumental foundations.
While they’re not inexperienced with techno-experimentation, this is completely different to anything they’ve done before. It’s quite simple and restrained and has some excellent tracks on it. None of them quite reach the same level as ‘Pompeii’ or ‘Flaws’ but following their initial popularity, any sort of follow up was always going to get less traction. While the compilation is a unique side to the musical talents of Bastille, the variety of tone and sound is what we’ve come to expect from these guys. It could be a taste of what’s to come, and hell, if it’s going to sound anything like this, it’ll definitely be interesting.