With their first "on-purpose" album, The Outside Agency come up with the full-length album which we need, but might not deserve, and certainly not expect. This duo comprised of DJ Hidden and Eye-D have regularly brought fresh sound to the hardcore scene and repeat this feat again. Crossbreed, dubstep, breakcore? All this (and more) is included in this wildly varying and still extremely focused and driven album. If there ever was somebody who could combine cleverness, depth and masterful production to such a relentlessly hard music genre, it was them. They've done it again, probably more than ever. Are you listening? Get this on CD / as digital files.
It is no small feat that Noel Wessels (a.k.a. DJ Hidden) and Frank Nitzinsky (Eye-D) have accomplished with their Outside Agency project. First putting their claws in the Dutch hardcore scene in 1996, this duo has since not only gained the status of pillar of all things hard and electronic, but have revolutionized the breed, constantly re-inventing their sounds (and by extension the genre's boundaries), daring to inject a healthy dose of experimentation in a style which many thought stale.
In parallel to their solo drum'n'bass output, these two musicians have released a slew of Eps (some later presented in the two compilation full-lengths "Scenocide 101" and "Scenocide 202") which quite rapidly made them stand aside of anything one could hear as regular, stomping hardcore. May it by playing with uncommon tempos or time signature, infusing their tracks with both dark atmospheres and absurd humorous samples, or domesticating other music genres (for example single-handedly creating the "crossbreed" sub-genre of drum'n'bass-ized hardcore), The Outside Agency are the strays of the scene: presenting it what they want to do, and clearly not what they are expected to. Answering to the question "why don't you make more records sounding like the previous one", Wessels and Nitzinsky simply state "We already made that record".
"The Dogs Are Listening" was therefore obviously going to be an album that The Outside Agency had never made, as well as one which some listeners didn't want them to make. The first long-player that the duo has ever done with this particular intent (as opposed to being a compilation of previously released track), this canine-titled work starts with his take at much-reviled dubstep ("Godspeed"), features a breakcore tune ("Backpack Wisdom"), a speedcore one ("End Boss"), and features tracks whose BPM count ranges from 110 to 240. Not really what you would expect from a hardcore album, and therefore all you would expect from The Outside Agency.
Punishingly hard but awe-inspiringly clean. Massive but detailed. Brooding but exhilarating, "The Dogs Are Listening" is the Outside Agency album which we might not deserve, but which we need. There are only very few people out there able to marry cleverness and wit with such a violent style as hardcore. The Outside Agency are the leaders of this pack, and demonstrate their complete control of their art. Are you listening?
Finally, the wonder doesn't stop at the music. The Outside Agency are used to surprise with their formats and extras, and were not going to miss the opportunity to experiment again with this first "on-purpose" album. Its CD version is pressed on a limited edition polycarbonate CD (itself using the very rare CD+G standard to add some audiovisual extras to their music, something last seen in 1991) packaged in an embossed digipack.
The Outside Agency
The Dogs Are Listening
November 10th, 2012
02. The Strangers
03. Forest Children
04. The Fabric Of Life
05. Dream Denial
06. Cautionary Tale
07. The Wandering Mind
08. A Perfect World
09. Centipedes & Sentinels
10. Backpack Wisdom
11. End Boss
Track 01, 03, 05, 06, 09 & 11 written and produced by DJ Hidden.
Track 02, 04, 07, 08 & 10 written and produced by Eye-D.
Artwork by DJ Hidden.