Neurofunk is one of the most underrated genres in electronic music, and one that I completely fell in love with when exploring the vast expanses of DNB in general, trying to figure out what I liked and what I didn’t. In short, neurofunk is a type of dark and heavy drum n’ bass, hailing from (where else) London, and incorporating elements of funk, darkness, tech, and brutality into a usually upbeat form of music. Simon Reynolds, the British music critic who first coined this term, described the sound as "the eroticization of anxiety," which is a perfect way to characterize the complex sounds of this genre. The Dead Limit EP that the Upbeats and Noisia just put out really kills it in terms of sound and form, but lacks some of the atmospheric elements I have come to expect from The Upbeats specifically.
This split is four songs in length, and each one, in true spirit of Neurofunk, is distinct and different from the last. This is one of the things that makes this sub-genre so impressive – songs will vary widely in structure, form, and content, yet all come back to the same place sonically and utilize the same tropes of sound. This record in particular uses a lot of elements that are inherent to neurofunk – the big, heavy “Reese” sound that we may describe as a wobble or a vibration, the Jungle-inspired, classic break beats, and the stabbing drums and synths to accentuate and highlight the music.
The record starts out with the title track, "Dead Limit," which starts off on a dark note like most of the music by both Noisia and The Upbeats, and leads into a big build, riffing on the energy of the drums to crescendo with some loud, crunchy sound. After this, things don’t slow down at all, as the record moves right into "Omnivore" which can most easily be described as "fun." The drum loop is sped up and happy, and this song is distinctly lighter and less gothy than most neurofunk. “Inverse” then takes off with a nice industrial-influenced, stabby lead that sounds more like classic neruofunk. It also has a really nice, primal chorus that makes it stand out to me as my favorite on the record. Things come to a close at the end with "Mouthbreather," which is a pretty goofy track – it is peppered with goofy samples about being a mouth breather, making this seem more like joke track despite the strength of the music, which is still on par with the rest of the album.
This record is an interesting blending of the dark, synthy style of The Upbeats and the dancier, poppier, but still dark and heavy, sounds of Noisia. However, it lacks some of the dark, dancey, unique qualities of classic stuff like The Upbeats' Primitive Technique, an album full of depth and melody. I was impressed by the energy of this release, but I could use more driving melodies and dives in the darker side of neurofunk.