File this one in the “…and now for something completely different” category, as Magnetude’s first single since March on their Evolution Chamber imprint won’t fall into any other category in drum & bass. “Trail of Tears” drops today and it’s a wild, emotional ride.
Magnetude, Task Horizon and Receptor rebooted Evolution Chamber as a collective late last year. It’s meant to be a label for the three artists and eventually others to release unconventional tracks and EPs that other labels may not pick up because they’re a bit left of center. With its tribal vocal samples, ever-changing beat patterns and Spaghetti Western-inspired opening and break, “Trail of Tears” definitely fits that bill.
More than likely inspired by the actual infamous Trail of Tears period in U.S. history where tens of thousands of Native Americans were forced to relocate to reservations, resulting in native populations being decimated due to violence and disease, this track pulls no punches. With no actual lyrics, it juxtaposes a Western film-style orchestral arrangement in the intro, break and phrase transitions with the main melodic arrangement, which is a sort of Native American tribal-inspired vocal sample.
There are a couple of ways the music can be interpreted in “Trail of Tears.” The way it goes back and forth between the Western-style music and the more tribal vocals, it could be seen as a musical interpretation of an active battle between the two sides. Given the name of the track, however, there is likely more to it than that.
The Spaghetti Western as a film style was made famous (or infamous) in the 50s and 60s as showing white Americans, specifically cowboys, as being noble and rightfully fighting the savage Native population of the United States for survival. Based on stories like the Trail of Tears, we know that this is a very distorted view of history and in fact the US government was the aggressor in most of these situations. The Western-inspired music in the opening and break of the track is likely meant to show the irony of this idea that the white Americans were noble in any way. The response of the desperate Native American battle cry shows who was really fighting for their land and survival not only during the Trail of Tears but throughout American history.
Aside from this politically charged, very emotional melody combination, “Trail of Tears” is also an incredibly fun, heavy, neuro-inspired dancefloor track. Blisteringly fast snares that circle around the beat and add to the intensity of the already emotive melody. Said beat vacillates between a standard D&B beat and a more steppy, almost jump up beat, with only the kick showing up in certain places. Even in the quieter places in the track, the syncopation on “Trail of Tears” is impeccable and every part of it works together to really tell the story of this tragic event with music.
Magnetude are known for bringing emotion and melodic intensity to drum & bass in a way that no other artist does but they’ve really outdone themselves with “Trail of Tears.” Poignant, heavy, emotional and political all at once, it’s still a dancefloor stomper and will likely add some passion to a lot of sets, socially distanced or not, this summer.
“Trail of Tears” is out now on Evolution Chamber. Click here to stream or purchase on multiple platforms.