Following several tracks with U.K. label Rarefied, stuff that was dubstep in the first degree, Brighton producer Sibla seeks out the next steps for his sound, and puts his best foot forward with this debut album. The rhythmic and production template is still clearly dubstep on Vanguard, though the boorish beats and bass have given way to a jazz sensibility at room temperature, cinematic with a dash of noir. Beyond that, Vanguard is really a sonic curiosity box.
The marvelously eclectic percussion, instruments, samples, and other, stranger sounds aren’t lost in murk or mush, but carefully exhibited for fullest appreciation. It all feels very acoustic, even tangible. “Groove Digga” is a flashcard series of musical styles through the decades, like flipping through a milk crate of unsorted vinyl. It’s done quite subtly, but the impression is clear. “Far Out” is an exploded mambo, “Fallen” a frightened prayer to feathered spirits with evil designs. The mystery is thick throughout, something that Sibla’s sense of transparency, clarity, and spatial relations only serves to augment.