The hotly anticipated Orange Lane LP by the Brookes Brothers finally dropped on Friday, October 20 and even with the expected heavy dose of R&B in the mix, the album is a departure for them in many ways, style-wise. This season and indeed much of 2017 has seen drum & bass producers who are considered to have a pretty established musical aesthetic taking their style in new directions. Camo and Krooked kicked off this trend with their massively successful and unique Mosaik album, released in June. Contemporary with Orange Lane and releasing next week on October 27 is Misanthrop’s new EP Blurred, which also gets very experimental. Now the Brookes Brothers are definitely throwing their hat into the “different” ring with Orange Lane in a bid to let the drum and bass-listening public know to expect the unexpected.
The first two singles released off Orange Lane, “Flashing Lights” and “Movin’ On,” were a bit misleading because these two tracks were sort of classic Brookes Brothers, although the genetically matched duo definitely kicked it up a notch. This is especially true on “Flashing Lights” with the way the artists merged the vocals from ShezAr and Bossman Birdie with the peppy jump up beat to create an upbeat vocal track with depth. Similarly, “Movin’ On” is a seriously on-point jump up track but the soulful vocals conjure an era of ‘80s freestyle, which is both fun and emotive. Both, however, are classic Brookes Brothers.
There is a definite theme of upbeat R&B throughout Orange Lane, but it still somehow runs the gamut of style musically, and not just within drum & bass. The first track, “The One” featuring ShockOne, for example, has an R&B style to the vocals, but the music is much more experimental. It’s a halftime track first of all, which it not often seen in more vocal or liquid drum & bass, but it also conjures ‘80s pop sounds as well as ‘80s experimental synths (think Tangerine Dream). A more current example to compare this track to might be Hudson Mohawke, as it’s a halftime track with a lot of halting, funky breaks, and ‘80s-inspired builds and breakdowns. Definitely a highlight of the album.
Also worthy of noting is the way Orange Line is bookended by tracks featuring Pierre da Silva, with the album closer “We Got Love,” another highlight of the album, with its amen-based, snare heavy beat and chill, smooth soul lyrics. Even though the end of this track fades out slowly rather than having a concrete outro, it puts a great period on the end of the Orange Line sentence.
As a whole, each track flows together in a way that makes the project a cohesive work rather than just a collection of unrelated songs. There is not only a clear theme and style for Orange Lane, but some of the tracks literally pick up where the last one left off, bringing a continuity to this album which has been lacking since digital music buying platforms began and generally not seen much in electronic music full stop. One listen from top to bottom and it becomes clear that Orange Line is meant to be received as an artistic work in its own right rather than just the sum of its singles. “The One” merges into “Times of Trouble” which merges into “Flashing Lights” and so on. “Movin’ On” stops quite abruptly but even that seems to be done purposely as a sort of introduction to the next track, “Good To Me” featuring Majesty. It’s a really fun direction D&B producers are moving in with their LPs lately, and it’s no surprise that the Brookes Brothers do it expertly.
While Viper Recordings are always good at building hype for its album releases, this one definitely lives up to the hype. From “The One” to “We Got Love” and every track in between, fans can enjoy each song in its own context or listen to the whole album on a loop and just be bathed warm sea of orange for as long as they want.
Orange Lane is out now on Viper Recordings and can be streamed or purchased on multiple platforms by clicking here.