Ever since Gerra & Stone decided to clash heads seven years ago, they’ve been responsible for serving up some absolutely breathtaking slices of drum & bass.
But like all good producers, they’ve always followed the golden rule of quality over quantity, and while that means their output is always guaranteed to do the business, it also means we’ve had to go long periods without hearing anything from them.
Since their last notable release, the stunning Unbreakable EP on Dispatch back in 2015, they’ve been largely absent from the scene, save from a few remixes and single tracks. But thankfully there is a very good reason for that – they’ve been busy in the studio working on their first ever album which is, predictably, well worth the wait.
After two years in the making the whopping 16-track beauty Polarism dropped on Dispatch last week and it’s the duo’s finest work to date. Far from strangers to mixing things up, the album is a delicious and diverse body of work showcasing a variety of different flavours, all produced to the high standard we’ve become used to from them.
“After years of releasing music together we felt like it was time to release an album and we hope our style lends itself to a bigger body of work,” said Dave (Stone) “Our ethos has always been to cover a wide spectrum within drum & bass and not just stick to one sound; writing an album gives us the scope to try some different ideas out and mix things up more than we have done before.”
The boys will be launching the album in style with a party at London’s Archspace on September 30 which is set to be a big one. But in the meantime, here are five reasons why you should really, really listen to the album. Now.
It draws from one of the golden eras of drum & bass
“One of our favourite periods of ‘modern’ drum & bass was around the time Alix Perez brought out ‘1984’. The different range of emotions and moods across that album, and that era of Shogun, Metalheadz, Critical and a few others as a whole has always been a big influence for us.
“It seems crazy to us when we play out what we perceive to be all-time classics by the likes of Perez, Spectrasoul and Break and people in the crowd haven’t heard them before, but we accept that there’s a whole new generation of drum & bass fans younger than us now who have a different perspective on the scene and different artists who have influenced them. A lot of stuff these days is very loud and in your face, but that era circa 2007 is always a draw for us.”
It was made organically with no label pressure
“Unlike most producers, we didn’t start the album with a clear plan and we didn’t tell anyone we had started working on one, not even Ant (TC1). We went quiet for a long time and then rang him up one day to tell him and he signed it up straight away! He can be a hard man to please but he was pleasantly surprised to hear what we’d made, which was a big sign we were doing something right and spurred us on to finish it and make it the best it could be.
“By doing that, we were able to write freely without anyone telling us what to do or how our music should sound. However, most producers have loads of releases all finished off and ready to go before writing an album to keep things ticking over, but because we didn’t plan the album we didn’t do that, which means people haven’t heard from us in a while aside from a few remixes and single tracks!”
It’s a reflection of both their musical preferences and society as a whole
“We do have a theme on the album around the idea of opposites, which is something we’re quite conscious of in a lot of ways, hence the title. Sometimes the two of us can be different in terms of our musical viewpoints and our styles can differ, which is why there are some tracks on the album that are quite jazzy and others which are pretty tear-out.
“Without going too deep into it, the word ‘Polarism’ is also a bit of a reflection on how we see the world and society right now. There are so many polar extremes going on all around us, particularly involving society and the way technology is affecting it, and we wanted to highlight that in some way across the album. We’ll leave the rest up for people’s interpretation, as we prefer it that way!”
Writing it nearly drove them insane
“There were points during the writing process when we were like “is this even an album!?” We listened to the tracks so many times we didn’t have a fucking clue! It was a bit like when you say a word a few times in your head and it completely loses its meaning. It took over our lives for sure and it was a real mental battle at times.
“We found that writing an album is an entirely different process to what we’ve been used to up to that point, and we learnt a lot from it. Trying to get the mixdowns right was the biggest thing for us, making 16 different tracks feel like one entity was a real challenge, but a fun one. However, hearing the final product and seeing the feedback so far has brought a bit of the enjoyment back, and is reminding us why we went through it.”
It features collaborations with both up-and-coming and established artists
“There are some really talented musicians featured on the album. Stephen McCleery isn’t really known for his drum & bass but he’s a great keys player from our hometown and we’ve got a lot of love for him. He smashed it on the Unbreakable EP so we wanted to get him involved again for ‘On The Outside’. Jordan Jnr, the vocalist on that same track, is completely unknown in drum & bass but I used to teach him at a community college in East London where he was a student doing a music production course. He usually does R&B but I picked up a really good vibe from him and he sounds really good on it. I was really pleased to get him on something and I think we’ll be seeing some more of him in drum & bass.
“Then there’s two with Visionobi, a long-time friend of ours who we met at uni in Southampton. We’ve always really rated his style and like what he does. He introduced us to Peta Oneir a couple of years ago, the really talented female vocalist who’s on two of the tracks. We didn’t collaborate with other producers as we wanted it to be just our take on the production but it was good to involve other feature artists to branch it out a bit and bring some different flavours.”