James Boyle AKA Breakage only records music at night. When the birds start tweeting and people get ready to go to work, he stops working. And that sweet twilight tension is writ-large on his ambient, chest rattling productions. He’s the which the dark master of UK sound-system melancholy. A Noah “40” Shebib for the M25 Orbital zone, if you will.
In 2015, after a break of 4 years, this notoriously reclusive perfectionist is ready to give a new album to the world – album # 3 ‘When The Night Comes’. It arrives following singles ‘Treading Water’, ‘Future’ and album instant grat track ‘Revelation’.
Breakage is best known for his Top 40 hit with Jess Mills, ‘Fighting Fire’, and a certified grime classic when Newham Generals jumped on one of his instrumentals to make the thuggish ‘Hard’. Not to mention a discography of classic drum & bass tracks, from dub jungle smash hits like ‘Clarendon’ (here) to cut-up drumfunk like his famed remix of Equinox’s ‘Acid Rain VIP’ (here) on labels from Planet Mu to Reinforced and Critical Recordings. But it was at Digital Soundboy with the legendary Shy FX he found his natural home and the biggest champion of his way with ‘the groove’.
But that’s not the whole Breakage story. Did you know he turned up at Croydon’s famous Brit School as a teen student wanting to be the next Jimi Hendrix, having been raised on his Dad’s classic rock? It was only when his older brother (an associate of proto-junglist hardcore group The Criminal Minds) put him onto early dance that he dropped the guitar and picked up Cubase.
‘When The Night Comes’ is a snap shot of all his influences; drum & bass, rock, techno…from Madchester to Metalheadz. The end result has more in common with the great British dance genre synthesisers than the genre purists; Leftfield, Massive Attack and Burial (who he collaborated with). Tracks like ‘Revelation’ with Liam Baily suggesting Lover’s Rock for a dystopian future. ‘Bad Blood’ with Jess Mills sounding like a Boi-1da with minimal drum programming. ‘Dedication’ echoing his break beat virtuosity of yore, while ‘Treading Water’ is perfect crystalline pop. The submarine ‘Aquamission’ is a direct reference to Roots Manuva’s observation that Breakage’s music is talking to sealife (like whales) on their frequencies.
The album has the confidence to build from chilled and chilly atmospheres, into high dance floor drama. ‘When The Night Comes’, no one channels it’s blackness like Breakage.