CD, Tympanik Audio / Brume Records, 2010
“Blood”, the latest full-length from Belgian breakcore producer Fractional, follows 2008’s “Come Mierda” with reckless, happy abandon. It is a curious body of work, and admittedly the direction taken with this new material is rather unexpected. “Blood”, in short, is an unconventional concoction of melodic, highly energetic drum ‘n’ bass and funky, offbeat electronics with a splash of industrial edginess and well-executed downtempo IDM. While individual tracks have great potential, being impeccably produced and generally giving the feeling of running headlong into some plushy, sparkly dimension just this side of a bad trip, the album when taken as a whole falls flat, perhaps stemming from its eccentric character and resultant lack of cohesion. “Blood” is either full throttle or weirdly somnambulant, but enjoyable all the same.
Straight away Fractional tosses listeners in at the album’s thematic deep end with “Water”, a drum ‘n’ bass cut chock-full of the aforementioned melody and energy, pulling heartstrings like a nostalgic flashback on speed. Title track “Blood” continues in an almost identical vein, pushing forward with that same crazed exhilaration but tempered by a more industrial unease, perhaps hinting that all is not quite right down the rabbit hole. This motif continues throughout the album, from the concentrated feel of “Lows”, with its insistent and well-layered downtempo builds and passages, to the bubbling high notes and devil-may-care euphoria of “Ofue”. The latter features a churning, minute-long build before the beat finally crashes in, instantly ramping it up to epic proportions.
Stompy “Wo” is probably the most industrial piece on the album, and despite the noise elements it still comes across as honey-dipped. “Nupkt” seems to be the standalone ‘breakcore’ number, yet its furious pacing puts it solidly in the realm of ‘refreshing and structured’ in lieu of ‘overwhelming and chaotic’. Other surprises include carefree and clunky “Elephant’s Dance”, a rewarding take on slow, stuttering electro, and “Niv”, best described as ambient IDM and featuring white noise background drones with a telltale heartbeat bass rhythm.
The emphasis on mood and expressiveness is really this album’s most compelling aspect, its potential darkness and rage mitigated by a resounding and gleeful proclivity towards sounding like an ecstasy high at full tilt. Despite being comprised of stand-alone tracks that seem to have either too much or too little to do with each other, “Blood” delivers some very worthwhile stuff perfect for the manic dance floor.
— Dutton Hauhart