Djrum & Lola Empire – “Waters Rising”: A polished, jazzy d’n’b experience

I’m pushing the concept of this blog with today’s pick. Djrum is, with his 55.000 monthly listeners, not exactly “undiscovered” in the electronica world. Especially since this is a rather niche type artist. But this is just so good that I had to make an exception.

I also cling to the excuse that the featured artist on this track, Lola Empire, is an undiscovered act based on her Spotify stats. And she adds a core element to the track with her voice.

In addition this pick marks a milestone, as it is the first drum’n’bass/jungle based track on this blog. Although it must be said, it’s not straight d’n’b. It has long, gorgeous, jazzy ambient segments, a rather calm energy level and the focus is on the vocals and piano. But the beat track is unmistakably d’n’b.

The UK based artist Felix Manuel is the man behind the name Djrum, and his background from the jazz and classical music scenes are very audible in his music.

‘Waters Rising’ is a collaboration with vocalist Lola Empire and was originally written around a piano sketch that was sent back and forth between the two artists until it became the fully realised song you hear now.

Quoting Djrum; “I really hadn’t expected love to be a theme in the album, but I was chatting with Lola and she told me how she’d fallen in love. I sent her the initial sketch for this and told her i didn’t think love was an appropriate subject for it. but she came out with this. 
‘love is dark’ she said.”

But in addition to the exquisite artistic qualities of the track, it’s also the production quality that stands out for me. It’s just so excellently mixed, gorgeous details that blends perfectly into the audio picture, the whole track screams quality quality quality.

I mean, I can absolutely appreciate a “rough diamond”. And often while exploring “undiscovered artists” for this blog I hear productions that are good, but they just don’t have that layer of polish that an experienced producer applies to his work. It needs to be learnt.

And since I know I do have quite a few music producers that are at an earlier level of experience as readers of this blog, I want to use this opportunity to show you all this track.
Notice the clarity of each element. No elements are fighting for space in the stereo image, they all just complement each other. And polished, and then polished again. And while the treatment of the vocals are heavy, they are not overdone.
This can easily be used as a reference track.

My selected track here is probably the most accessible track from his album “Portrait With Firewood“. But the rest of the album is well worth listening to, especially if you’re open to contemporary jazz: Then it becomes a must, no less.

The track is of course added to our “Beatradar Selections” playlist:

You are welcome to follow it to have an continuously expanded list in your collection!