"Innovation" is the word of the moment for future garage. Artists from all corners of the genre are creating soundscapes and rhythms in ways that have not been heard before within it, a few of whom I have covered previously for Stereofox. With "Grow Cold", Direct establishes his place among those pushing the sound towards new boundaries.
Opening with a flood of warmth, the track is swept in by thick pads that lay out the initial progression. Soft vocal cuts dance around in the stereo field before, fairly quickly, the intro is replaced by the tight drums and looped riff of the drop. A syncopated rhythm and unusual melodic layer gives the track the charm and originality to leave a lasting impact on the listener, standing firmly apart from any suggestion of genericism.
Despite being called "Grow Cold", the soundscape has an incredibly warm feel to it. Only the textures sitting wide in the stereo space feel cold, reminiscent of a frozen lake shifting and cracking under the weight of one's shoe. This juxtaposition leans into the track's name; the warmth of the pads seeps out into the stereo space and begins to freeze: "Growing Cold", if you will. Whether or not this was a deliberate consideration during the production process is anyone's guess, but it takes an incredibly skilled artist to create such recognisable and vivid imagery in their work.
"Grow Cold" is a masterful track; one of my favourites in Direct's discography. That such an established artist was willing to take a risk and create something so different is a fact worthy of nothing but respect. Stream the track here: