You can always rely on Santoku to bring you the most vehemently anticipated newcomers. From their renowned compilation series, to their standalone releases, the imprint strives to bring you a transatlantic range of talent, pulling together every corner of the globe and giving different snapshots into the diverse world of drum & bass. Whether the artists are from their US hub, or more further afield throughout the European scene, the A&R flex at Santoku is unyielding. For their next release, Senpai joins Santoku’s definitive back catalogue, demonstrating their role as a tastemaker in not just within the US, but throughout its full stretch.
Senpai is a Russian neurofunk producer hailing from its drum & bass hotbed in Moscow. For his first release, ‘Flandria’ really upholds a standard which he’ll be expected to adhere to for the remainder of his career. And it’s looking to be a promising one, especially alongside the stringent manufacturing and song writing prevalent throughout ‘Flandria’ and its flipside ‘Unsourced’. With an unreserved passion for the deeper side of neuro, his breaking of boundaries is fearless.
‘Flandria’ opens on a whirling flurry of uplifting beats and synth patterns, before it begins to crash into life with softly distorted male vocals and relays of piano notes. The record then begins to crunch through moody LFO, vastly juxtaposing its intro and grabbing you unaware. Senpai brings you a ferocity which doesn’t instantly throw itself at you and instead broods sulkily from layer to layer. Despite being on the darker end of the spectrum, his production standard is more understated, a clever engineering which gives him an edge over his baying competition. There’s an elegance in his work, which is sometimes no present with the heavier sounds.
‘Unsourced’ brings out the deeper part of Senpai’s repertoire, a mass of biting sonic which once again utilises Senpai’s brilliant use of intro. With clicking kick drum and snapping percussion, the track winds up into diluted chaos. A whirring concoction of heavy drum relays and a winding bassline, he hits harder with each figure of eight. Despite being previously unheard of, Senpai’s music will now become infamous. Although with his engineering, this was the only outcome for his first release.