Nick Douwma is certainly an artist that has jumped from strength to strength in the last ten years. In the modern movement towards electronic dance music, the innovative DJ has shown raw talent in both his own work and remixing others. Starting out in 2003 with his introduction via Ram Records, his career has shot into the drum and bass stratosphere with DJs internationally rotating his hits. With the release of his self titled album Sub Focus in 2009, he cemented his name amongst the heavyweights of the arena, followed by a legendary headline set on the Glade stage at Glastonbury 2010 through its success. In the years to follow, Douwma would play Glastonbury again (headlining the Silver Hayes dance tent in 2013 with a DJ set following in the Aztec Temple later in the same night), have a few tours internationally and remain a solid spot on festival lineups. But now, in the last stretch of 2013, the highly anticipated followup to his self titled album has arrived. With a single already released and having proven its success in clubs worldwide (‘Out The Blue feat. Alice Gold’), we now welcome the 17 track goliath that is Torus.
It starts in many ways with the same style that Sub Focus began, an introductory track that eases the listener into something of a story. We hear radio chatter, talking of a disc-like object floating ahead, coming towards them. At a pinnacle point, the main beat kicks in; punching through with an energy not felt since 2009. It’s a powerful beginning, signalling what is yet to come from the rest of the album. With the following track, there’s already a clear difference between this work and that of the debut – Nick’s gone down the route of using more vocalists. Simply by looking at the track names before even hitting the play button, it’s already clear that this album is more of a collaboration of many great artists than a showcase of pure SF – something not uncommon with drum and bass releases (see Chase & Status’ No More Idols). With vocal efforts from Block Party’s Kele and Alex Clare (already a well known artist in his own right with the dance-floor classic ‘Too Close’) to name just two, there’s hit after hit jammed into each new offering. By choosing the deluxe edition, you also get some remixes of the single tracks ‘Falling Down’ (instantly recognisable through it’s synth hook) and ‘Endorphines’ (with the remix being done by Sub Focus vs Fred V & Grafix), which are both highly worth the extra money. Key tracks to listen out for in the standard version would be ‘Falling Down’ – already noted for it’s incredibly catchy main riff; ‘Twilight’ – this contrast track provides some calm in a storm of solid beats and grooves; and ‘Tidal Wave’ – for the sheer power used with euphoric melody lines.
The album as a whole definitely feels like an evolution in direct comparison to Sub Focus. There’s a new level of depth that has been found in the gap in his recorded career, and it certainly allows this album to be a fresh face (and one that stands its own ground) in an already busy and saturated market. With few tracks that could be considered fillers, it’s clear that Nick hasn’t spent these last four years resting on his laurels, and with his album tour in full swing, it is now only to be expected that they will be a series of shows to remember.