D-Operation Drop & Geode – Stronghold EP Review (SUBALT003)


Subaltern Records are a label who have caught our eye since their debut release which featured ‘1992’ by Mentha and Murk, alongside the highly regarded remix from Ipman on the flip. The sheer fact they took the plunge and began releasing on both digital and vinyl formats signifies their intent.
They’ve dug deep to the depths of the scene for this next release, which arguably could be their best combination of artists so far, featuring a delectable mixture of Italy’s D-Operation Drop, Geode and New Zealand’s Perverse. The vinyl features three tracks, with an additional track for the digital release and is a refreshing blend of styles, with variety from start to finish.

‘Stronghold’ starts in typical D-Op style, atmospherically placing an aggressive and shuddering bass kick in anticipation of the drop before the track mounts an audio attack. Silence eclipses the structure momentarily before various distorted SFX begin viciously battling. Although the track is filled with numerous contorting and quite frankly demonic sounds, the pacifying bass line counteracts the mid warfare and the percussion births the track with an unmatchable groove. As it unravels you can’t help but feel your body moving to the swaggering structure and the amount of action implemented from the highs down to the lows feeds the flow of the track.

The combination of two of my most highly held artists, D-Op and Geode, has helped create this second rugged track, ‘Angkor’. It creeps, using occasional sound, from quiet to loud to bring the listener into the building atmosphere. The drop releases a myriad of twisted synths and bass heavy sounds giving an impression of newly produced dubstep, yet combining elements of older material. The signature ‘wob’ used in the back drop and the heavy impact bass kick really does lace the track with aggression but also gives a real original sound. Geode’s input is evident with the occasional enlightened chords being placed throughout and the percussion in particular during the second drop is technically brilliant.

Perverse’s remix of ‘Stronghold’ is the third and final track to feature on the 12” and you can certainly see why. The track follows suit from the previous two; amplifying bass line brute force from start to finish and the selective elements from the original they’ve used are evidence of the pair’s vast knowledge of the music. They’ve acutely used the original distortions but dissected the ruckus of warped sounds to give the track a little more momentum, yet instilled some of their own groove on the piece. The structure is occasionally broken up through a low end bass drop, breathing space into the piece until you are once again engaged in the militant, eyes-down scenario.

The fourth track is entitled ‘Breaking’, which is the bonus digital track. It shows D-Op’s adaptive style and ability to take a different approach when producing, using techy elements throughout the production and in some ways branching away from their dark tendencies, implementing some lighter elements into the track. However, the rough rolling bass line does still bring a more down toned atmosphere, cohering with the dwindling synth patterns and pounding percussion.

This release is an indication of the direction the label is taking and shows promise for the coming year, which I’m sure for this label will be filled with plenty more immense releases. The ease of attracting some of the best underground artists to feature in the run of releases gives me such joy. With the five combined minds of D-Operation, you always knew their tracks would deliver on this release but it’s also a treat to hear Geode branching away from his Chord Marauder style productions. Of course, we’re not forgetting the input from the Perverse boys, who seem to produce on all fronts and have a backlog of some of the best tracks in the scene. Subaltern have been one of the many labels who have really impressed me this year, and I have a strong feeling they’ll continue in the same vein in the coming year.
The release will be available for 12″ pre-order and exclusively released via Juno Download from 30th December. There is also a 12″ bundle including the first 3 releases on Subaltern which can also be purchased following the links below.

The release is available to purchase here:


Be sure to check out the label and artist’s on Facebook/Soundcloud:

Subaltern Records:

D-Operation Drop:



Written by Drew Jones


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