Although his name is well-known in the UK and has been for many years, not a lot of drum & bass heads can claim to have known the London based producer Robert Alexander Etheridge, aka Dimension, before 2016. In particular, the big jump into the circle of the big bad boys has been made with a release named Automatik, which truly became a banger of a lot of dancefloors in the summer of 2016. The song is the typical rave song that lifts the atmosphere up, one of those from which you cannot come back. When the DJs play it, there is no coming back, you have to keep that vibe. And it might be hard.
However, digging in the musical career of Dimension one can trackback tracks from 2012, and even earlier. Those were the days of Heroes & Villains from Calyx & Teebee, of Imperial EP from Noisia, and many other tracks that are now already classics but also resound as oldies, even though we’re talking of 4 years ago! He started his career in Drum & Bass through Cyantific recordings, a label now called CYN and owned by Jon Stanley, aka Cyantific himself, about which we have written a couple of things. One of the two tracks released in 2012, called Digital World, wasn’t a discovery to me. I didn’t remember it, but when I played it on YouTube I was like OMG it’s this one! so you gotta check it out.
Being that one a true hot piece of music, his career took off quite quickly and the year after (2013), Synth City was out. This one I do remember, I danced to it quite a lot of times, and it was the first time I heard of Dimension in my life. We were facing the rise of one of those artists that are able to change the angle from which we look at music, even if only by 1 degree. As a matter of fact, when I think of his music, I don’t think of something so radically different and innovative, because that wouldn’t have been undertood in the time being. He would be unknown, and would be discovered only years after. What I think instead is that he was and is able to fit perfectly in the scene of his music, gathering a lot of likes and support, but at the same time changing it a little, becoming some sort of a trend setter. Another guy like that is Netsky, and this is a compliment.
Another big achievement in his career has been to move to More Than A Lot Records (MTA), a label that literally made his success. His first release with MTA has been Love to Me, another track that I remember very well, in 2014. This track scored a little change in his producing style while keeping it always a lot synthy. The first releases, like Digital World and Synth City, were perfect for Cyantific Records, as they resembled the sound of the label owner Cyantific himself. The MTA releases, instead, started to sound a little different even though one can clearly see where the origin is. Here is an example:
In 2015, some new music came out from his lab. We’re talking about Jet Black and Whip Slap, two songs that are very different from his previous ones. When I first heard them I didn’t like them, I must confess. So raw, so simple in structure and so tribal, that wasn’t the Dimension I was used to know, the one that makes the party take off with liftups, reeses and synths. But that was also the time when I documented myself better on his cultural and musical origins, which I didn’t know before. There, I started to like, I started to understand, and to tell the others. The man comes from the underground UK Rave scene, has been part of it, and those raves didn’t and don’t have easy sounds. Don’t expect the atmosphere to lift as we are in heaven; on the contrary, usually it’s like being in the middle of a jungle with angry animals around. You shouldn’t expect to be treated well, and the music should underline this moment. Therefore the sharp and rude bass that slaps you during the drops is fair enough, is what you should expect, is deserved.
2016 was the sacred year for this artist, releasing Automatik and Hydraulic, two tracks that made the trip around the world more than once in few weeks, becoming a true viral phenomenon in Drum & Bass and making everyone having to deal with this guy. He is now one of the big guys, you can’t avoid him, you can’t un-know him, he’s there in your radio playing right now and you have to get to know him. Possibly, to get to know him better. How could I forget the first time I listened to Hydraulic?
And here we come to where we are now, the very first days of 2017, but there is another track on our way. Robert made another release, in November, that was quite of a game changer. We weren’t used to songs containing live elements, songs that resemble live recordings of shows or that truly are so. In November he released UK, a track that is as simple as effective. The “oh my gosh” that goes on for the whole song has became a popular sentence at raves, with people saying it for each banger tune but with the same intonation as UK. The drop is nasty, tribal and visceral, is really like raves were in the early 1990’s, and that really surprised me on so many levels. It takes courage to go back so much in time to reach a taste that was almost forgotten and transform it into something vintage, something that people actually could like once again. The central part of the song is also magnificient. The melody, the chorus, the voice, the synth, everything is in place and your mind is flying. The we fall back into the bass inferno for another round of the rave game. This song is sick.
This year I expect Dimension to reach the top of the mountain, where the gods are. His escalation was quite quick, we’re talking about 4-5 years in a zero-to-hero progression, that takes a lot of effort to achieve. We all know tha the UK has always been the land of Drum & Bass par excellence, but in the last 2-3 years many other realms came in the pitch to get a slice of this pizza. The eastern Europe scene, governed by Prague and Vienna, the Southern Europe hotspots like Bologna, Madrid, Rome and Milan, and these just to name a few. This time is not winter: Dimension is coming!