Last weekend, DRO CAREY did a 90-minute DJ set at our sold-out Twelfth Birthday party for VIVID SYDNEY. To say it was impressive would be a huge understatement as he took us on a sonic journey, hitting hard from the very start, mixing in songs we know and love with songs we've never heard before, and it served as an absolute masterclass on how to navigate a crowd. In this set, there was a moment where Dro Carey (aka Eugene Ward) played a heavy, grime-infused number that absolutely electrified the room. It was a major highlight in a set full of them, and while I was spellbound by the artistry on display during his set, I made a mental note to find out what the hell this song was. Well, I'm not sure if Ward read my mind or not, but sure enough this week he announced he was releasing a new song, and it was exactly the one I was searching for.
Titled 'Atmosphere', this is perhaps the hardest hitting track to come from Australia this year. It is positively blistering thanks to the three rappers Carey collaborated with including Sydney's KWAME, London's RENZ, and Boston-via-Sydney's RAJ MAHAL. With razor-sharp synths, heaving bass and menacing atmospherics, Carey is the maestro of a storm swirling all around him, seamlessly weaving the three rappers' unique styles into the best two minutes and 59 seconds I've heard all year. Infectious from the get go, each rapper holds his own, ducking and weaving over the cacophony of Carey's production, effortlessly riding the beat as it rises and crashes. With Kwame on the hook, Renz sounding almost too comfortable atop the frenzied instrumental and Raj Mahal settling in perfectly as the production really starts to hit its stride, the track ends suddenly and will have you reaching for that repeat button over and over again.
Considering the last we heard from Dro Carey was the groove-laden and upbeat 'Glow Now' featuring Genesis Owusu and Taliwhoah, this is an abrupt but welcome shift for Dro Carey. It's not completely out of the blue as we have seen Carey's affinity for grime previously with 'Elevate' released in 2016, however 'Atmosphere' is almost like 'Elevate's mutant cousin awaking like Frankenstein on steroids - and I mean that absolutely as a compliment.
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Having just dropped on Soothsayer this week, we have our hopes high there is plenty more where this came from as Dro Carey continues to evolve and deliver genre-defying electronic music like no one else right now. For now though, 'Atmosphere' will do just fine.
Words by Emma Jones