An open letter to Rudimental: what happened?

If you cast your minds back to 2013, life was a whole lot simpler, Obama had been elected for a second term as President of the United States, with not a tan, wig or wall in sight, Britain was still tight with the rest of Europe, and our future King of England was born. Also in that year, a little-known four-piece by the name of Rudimental released their debut album Home, an album that featured two of the group’s breakthrough hits- Feel The Love featuring John Newman, and the Ella Eyre-assisted All Night. And much like the current president and the UK/EU relationship, in 2017, Rudimental are a world away from what they once were, and a whole lot worse as a result.

Around that time, the world of bass and electronic music here in the UK was muddled and ready for direction, it just needed someone to provide that spearheading release. Dubstep had all but died out, or at least the demand for which had, leaving drum and bass with an opportunity to fill that mainstream-shaped void as the likes of Skream and Artwork jumped ship to house and techno. The dominating success of Chase & Status’ No More Idols had began to peter out, with Sub Focus also chiming in with some considerable hits, including the Alex Clare-featuring Endorphins.

Enter stage Rudimental, who burst onto the scene with the perfect execution of pop-meets-drum and bass in the form of Feel The Love, featuring a then-unknown John Newman. The song combined powerful chart-friendly vocals, with a rave-primed production, and a sprinkle of individuality and originality, powering the song with something that would later become a trademark Rudimental sound- brass.

The London-based outfit then followed it up with a similar formula, enlisting an up-and-coming Ella Eyre to provide vocals on Waiting All Night. Partner both tracks up with a couple of tidy music videos, a handful of headline shows, and a Mercury Prize-nominated, number one album, and Rudimental quickly became the soundtrack to summer 2013.

Fast forward to 2017, ignoring their tedious bore of a second album which I’d hoped was just a blip, it seems the band are now in an even more forgettable state of affairs. Now stripped of their defining factors, absent of their fresh sound of brass and soul meeting electronic music, blended with drum and bass, crossed with infectious pop. The fire is gone, the passion is missing, the diverse span of influences is nowhere to be seen. With the likes of Macklemore, Jess Glynne and James Arthur now taking the reigns on vocals, and without a drum or a bass in sight, it seems Rudimental have fast-become just another EDM-dance-pop crossover act, absent of the originality or the sound that made them what they are.

The last few years have seen strangled releases from two more of the UK’s most prolific electronic acts. Disclosure’s 2015 album Caracal was one of the most disappointing electronic releases in years, as was Chase & Status’ long-awaited fourth album Tribes, with both band’s guilty of discarding their roots and originalities, in favour of a polished label-friendly sound. Rudimental’s latest project is likely to follow in suite, as they did with their last LP, and in summary, it’s a disappointing sign for British electronic music.

 

 

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