Since their first release in 2003, British EDM artists Ashely Pope and Tomek Naden, otherwise known as NAPT, have been releasing their unique brand of music (known as “N-funk”) into the EDM world. Their career has yielded a plethora of awards including one from Beatport.com for their remix of Slyde’s “Frequency.” They’ve also performed at such major music venues as Fabric (London) and Villa (Perth), and held a spot at Glastonbury Music Festival in 2009. Needless to say, their newest release is surrounded by high expectations, and these guys don’t disappoint.
The opening track, “Tom Toms (Original Mix)” is a high energy, hard-hitting dance track incorporating a wide array of EDM and world-music influences. Listeners experience everything from dreamy sitar drones to raw, thudding bass drums and harsh cymbal crashes. One of the highlights of the track is the use of a hilarious vocal sample in which a mysterious voice demonstrates the sounds and uses of different drums including the snare drum, the crash cymbal, and, of course, Tom- toms. I found it intriguing to see electronic music blending humor and intensity so well, and the overall experience captured an energy I have yet to experience elsewhere in the EDM world.
And the EP doesn’t let up after “Tom Toms.” The second track, entitled “Italian Spiderman,” uses the energy accumulated in the first track and explores it even further. The track grounds itself with a steady clap track and is driven forward by a fierce synth trumpet line. The bass line, subtle but subversive, delivers an extra punch to the gut, making this track a great head banger. Again, NAPT incorporates humor into their music through the use of ridiculous vocal samples including, “respect the dondé,” and, my personal favorite, “shut your mouth, pussycat!” The music twists and turns in an a multitude of unexpected directions, ranging from a hardcore funk breakdown in the middle of the track, to a strange ambient interlude with distant jazz trumpet and clips from old television shows. The music is brilliant in that it not only makes me want to dance, but also satisfies from the sitting position as well. This was probably my favorite track on the EP.
The final track on the album, “Bear Bang,” is a strong track like the rest, but has trouble distinguishing itself from its predecessors. The music itself is established in an engaging manner (aggressive snare tapping, underlined by a thick, brassy horn section) but the atmosphere surrounding the music is not nearly as defined. There are some clipped, incomprehensible vocal samples, but these simply highlight the snare drum line and fail to stand on their own. One of the stronger aspects was the jazz/blues piano break in middle of the track, which brought a refreshing degree of uncertainty into the music. Overall, I found this to be an enjoyable track, but found that it stood as the weakest amongst the other two.
Its clear from listening to this EP that NAPT is on top of their game. The duo tastefully and intelligently blends a plethora of different genres from inside and outside the EDM world, and the resulting music is consistently high energy, aggressive, and refreshingly overwhelming. Furthermore, as mentioned before, the music not only made me want to let loose on the dance floor, but was just as enjoyable from a critical/intellectual standpoint. Finally, the incorporation of humor into the music is a bold and cocky move, but NAPT pulls it off so well, it seems like they’ve been planning the joke for years. On the whole, “Tom Toms” is a very strong, very enjoyable collection of music. A must listen.