British producer, Nick Douwma, more commonly known as Sub Focus, follows his well received self-titled debut album with the release of his new full length album Torus. In a similar vein to its predecessor, Torus demonstrates Douwma’s versatility in the field of electronic production as he ranges effortlessly across a variety of sub genres, from drum and bass, to house. The album features a large number of collaborations with an expanse of different artists, including Alex Clare and Foxes, which Douwma explained in his recent interview with The Edge, to be because, “I prefer to write songs with other people rather than on my own.”
In his second outing, Douwma brings together his releases from the past year or so – ‘Falling Down’, ‘Out the Blue’, ‘Endorphins’, ‘Tidal Wave’, his new single, ‘Turn it Around’, as well as fresh material previously unreleased.
The album opens with the title track, ‘Torus’, which progressively evolves from an atmospheric introduction into a punchy track with a mix of strong kicks, and newer mombahton-inspired blips. From here on in Douwma takes the listener on a relentless tour de force. ‘Safe in Sound’ and ‘Out the Blue’ prove that he still has what it takes to produce the same top quality DnB that made him famous, whilst ‘Twilight’ demonstrates equal skill at chillout tracks, and ‘Out of Reach’ is a welcome stylistic experimentation.
Torus’ release was preluded by Douwma’s new single ‘Turn it Around’, featuring Bloc Party’s Kele Okereke, released on 28th September. The single is a valuable addition to the album, and builds from an ambient intro, to a big synth hook, accompanied, interestingly, with trap-style snare rolls. Kele’s lyrics add further depth to the song. The track ‘Endorphins’ serves as a brilliant example of how successful Douwma’s collaborations are, and how refined his production has become, as what would have been another forgettable club/festival influenced drop is elevated above its peers by high quality sound production, and strong vocals from Alex Clare.
At this point, it appears Douwma possesses some rare ability to repeatedly bring out the best in all his collaborations, as they consistently deliver lyrics with meaning, unlike the many lesser electronic records around these days that feature a single uninspired line repeated over and over. ‘Tidal Wave’ reinforces this as the combination of powerful lyrics from Alpines, coupled with Douwma’s thumping kick drums and roaring bass result in an absolute powerhouse of a song with an intense drop, which is varied on the second, keeping listeners on their toes. Arguably, this is the standout track on the album; however Douwma makes this a very difficult conclusion to draw, thanks to many more quality songs.
Other highlights include the popular dupstep release ‘Falling Down’, and new track ‘Turn Back Time’, which has the potential to become a big club tune. Douwma rounds off the album with ‘Until the End’, a well chosen collaboration with Foxes, the British singer responsible for the lyrics to Zedd’s incredibly popular single, ‘Clarity’. Foxes brings in similarly powerful vocals and once again both Douwma and his lyricist deliver a knockout performance with a track that is a satisfying conclusion to a brilliant album.
Torus proves that Nick Douwma is not just a producer capable of great singles, but great albums. Much like his debut release, every song on this record has its merits; there are no filler tracks. Furthermore each song has its own distinct feel and sound, and it is refreshing to hear an electronic producer’s album that contains variation and experimentation, rather than the same old cookie-cutter beats, unnecessary drops and mundane lyrics that we are all tired of hearing. Torus is ultimately an essential purchase for fans of Sub Focus, electronic music, or anyone looking to broaden their musical tastes.
Torus will be released on the 30th of September on Virgin EMI.
Sub Focus headlines The Freshers’ Ball on Saturday 5th October at SUSU