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Album Review

Since he's one of the top producers in electronica's breaks movement, Dave Tipper's debut full-length should be an event by itself. As the title partially conveys, though, Surrounded is also one of the first works in electronic music recorded in 5.1 Surround Sound, the digital era's equivalent of four-speaker quadraphonic sound (to which is added a center speaker and a dedicated subwoofer). Breaks DJs looking for tracks to cane on the dancefloor will largely be disappointed by this record, a collection of moody material more appropriate for a film soundtrack than a night out. Tipper does prove a producer of absorbing downbeat electronics; his tracks feature waves of processed guitar, effects lines that squiggle or chime in a unique way, and a loping beat that rarely tops 60 bpm, the perfect accompaniment to a dramatic modern horror film like Seven or Pi. Tipper's work often takes full advantage of the 5.1 mix: He favors an interplay of effects that ebb and flow through the mix in a phasing, circular fashion. Though early on he doesn't do much more than take advantage of modern sonics, a pair of tracks near the middle — "Over the Coals" and "Forty Winks" — display a subtle command of atmosphere and melody rarely heard in modern electronica. (Sasha's surprising success with downbeat on Airdrawndagger is one of its few recent precursors.) Though if Alex Paterson had been given 5.1 technology back in 1990 he doubtless would've made one of the ultimate home-entertainment records of all time, Tipper's Surrounded falls close behind.


Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Part of the late-'90s drum'n'bass subgenre nu breaks, British DJ/artist/producer/car aficionado Tipper became entranced by the style at age 16, when his older brother turned him on to the whole rave culture. Eventually growing bored with the fast tempos and repetitiveness of drum'n'bass, Tipper began to experiment with tempos -- leading to his debut album, The Critical Path, in 2000 on the Higher Ground/Sony label. During the making of the album, Tipper began to suffer from hearing damage due to...
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Surrounded, Tipper
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