RONI SIZE/REPRAZENT at the Guvernment (132 Queen's Quay East), Monday (March 12). $25. 870-8000. roni size's reprazent crew plays
a form of music that was all but declared dead.
Five years after the drum 'n' bass threats of Goldie and his Metalheadz fizzled out, the Bristol production collective led by Size and featuring DJs Krust, Suv, Die, vocalist Onalee, MC Dynamite and a live bassist and drummer remains the public face of the frantic club music.
The downsizing of the group's Toronto show from the Warehouse to the "more intimate" Guvernment speaks for itself. And judging by the defensive, "drum 'n' bass is still alive" prattle Suv launches into, unprompted, the moment he picks up the phone, it's clear the producer's had to convince more than a few people that Reprazent is still relevant.
"We feel like we're still holding the flag for drum 'n' bass," Suv insists from Bristol's Channel House studios. "It's the one form of music that's always moving forward, and we keep pushing.
"In my eyes, drum 'n' bass is at its biggest point now," he says in all seriousness. "It's bigger than it's ever been. Everyone knows it, and it's gone back underground. We're touring in Australia, the music's in adverts and it surrounds us. Anyone who says it's dead is just fucked. The real people who have been into drum 'n' bass will always be there, long after the frilly bits have dropped off.
"Our role is to find the new face of drum 'n' bass."
The question now, in the era of speed garage and an innovative house revival, is whether anyone is still paying attention.
The group's New Forms debut appeared at a time when drum 'n' bass was truly on the cusp, and the record pushed the music out of the clubs and into the mainstream.
Reprazent's new In The Mode disc clatters away like it's still 1996, mixing double-time breaks with hiphop and funk overtones.
Disappointingly, though, it fails to push the boundaries of the music like its predecessor, and sounds utterly complacent by comparison.
Maybe if Size would lighten up his vise-like grip and let some of his other producers have more than cursory creative input, Reprazent wouldn't sound so dated.
Despite being one of four producers in the group, Suv admits that it's Size's project, and that of the 10 or 15 tracks he submitted for In The Mode, only part of one made it onto the disc.
Considering the range of ideas Suv says he's dabbling with, Size would be wise to pay attention if he truly wants to expand the scope of drum 'n' bass.
"I'm interested in music, not just drum 'n' bass," Suv insists. "At the moment, I'm listening to a lot of flamenco music and trying to adapt that to breakbeat.
"I have a huge reggae background, and I'm also doing a latino album now that's got Spanish guitars as well as salsa and timbales. There's also this Indian project I'm working on, as well as some Moroccan-sounding stuff. I just want to spice the music up a bit.
"I could probably bring that vibe to Reprazent, but it's nice to hang onto some things for yourself."