Review: Cliques - Chro / Chro (Wen Remix) [LAB016]
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PURCHASE: VINYL / DIGITAL
B. Chro (Wen Remix)
Release date: September 15th, 2014
To be frank, I am not familiar with who Cliques are. They may be newcomers, they may be incognito heavy hitters, I just don’t know. However in the 16th installment of Aquatic Lab transmissions, Cliques raves in the hypnotic tribal affair of ‘Chro’ and is punctuated with a pleasingly depressed, psychotropic remix by the wunderkind Wen. Both possess there own rhythmic strengths, yet the Wen remix wins out in the end due its bass-bin blowing sub pressure and more adventurous sonics.
In the original mix of ‘Chro’, Cliques deploy bleary and starry-eyed grime synths to arc the nightline of a future city. A ghostly, time-stretched voice wails out from dubspace following it’s natural course in between the wet alleys and neon burned brick walls. Dry percs indebted to El-B or early Pangaea swing with gusto and come armed with some tasteful dubbed out flourishes to darken the dance a tad. Over the course of ‘Chro’ the 2-step morphs with the subtle additions of tribal rhythmic pivots. To top it off, it’s all glazed acrossed a soca-infused plummeting b-line that’ll wiggle your bottom.
Down below, Wen reinforces the sub pressure with pitbull snarls and Pulse-X lazer cannon detonations. While the star-gazing synths are taken down a pitch or two to darken things up, its the more throughly dubby effects that are liberally applied to the percussion that create that off-putting haunted house vibe. Wen’s characteristic use of vocal snippets and other head-wrecking FX add to the already sepulchral proceedings. Turning the 2-step rhythmic foundation on it’s head, Wen loosens the ‘itchiness’ of the original, allowing enough space for the bass to do its work across a barely there grime inflected crossbreed with garage. Imagine the original mix of ‘Chro’ locked in cryo-sleep on a derelict spaceship and you’ve got some approximation of how the Wen refix sounds.
All in all, it’s a strong release by Cliques that’s perfect to slip in between that Wen & Parris plate that came out on Tempa a few weeks ago as well as stuff that’s coming out of the Cold Recordings camp and furthermore anything 130bpm or below that follows dubstep’s ideological aesthetic of dread-infused sound-scaping. I’ll be sure to keep my eyes open and ears to the ground more closely next time around.
Review: Nomine - Nomine’s Chant EP [TEMPA093]
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PURCHASE: VINYL / DIGITAL
A1. Nomine’s Chant
Release date: September 8th, 2014
Nomine’s fourth and perhaps most enchanting 12” to-date lands on Tempa just as summer draws to a close and the festive celebrations at Outlook are sealed on a high. Unveiling more of his shadowy enigma, Nomine continues to make special appearances at Youngsta’s Contact events captivating his audience with a hypnotic sound system experience. At the centre of these sonic transmissions lie three compositions which carve out vast spaces for mind and body to wander.
Beautifully executed on the lead track, ‘Nomine’s Chant’ is not your average dancefloor number but an example of how maximised space can build a majestic piece of music fabricated around exotic melodies and subliminal details. Either play it as a set opener or closer, or as an interim between heavier tracks, ‘Nomine’s Chant’ will subdue you with its vocal mantra gracefully flowing through the soundscape of strings and pulses of sub-bass.
Nomine returns to the more traditional half-step structures on ‘Ninjah’ which can catch you off guard like its namesake. Adopting his trademark echo-drenched samples and murky synths, ‘Ninjah’ creeps through the bamboo flute soundfield before lurching forward on a tide of ethereal bass movement and toughened metallic percussion.
To round-off this meticulously curated record, Nomine once again enters the 120-130 bpm territory with a sleeky dub techno club track packed with style and groove. Reflecting the compulsive formula of ‘128.1’ and ‘Mindfulness’, ‘Syncopator’ is built on a balanced framework of neoteric aesthetics and rich melodic chords.
Nomine’s sound has been a true sensory experience and an audacious exploration of the 140 template. He’s ability to balance melody and space with club dynamics gives him extensive depth to build adventurous music expressed upon a foundation of experimental sound design. His four records encapsulate a body of work which set the pretext for his highly anticipated forthcoming album, a project which could potentially be one of the most interesting takes on underground bass music.
Press Release: D-Operation Drop - Body Rock / Sufferah [LIONCHG008]
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PRE-ORDER: BANDCAMP / REDEYE
A1. Body Rock
Release date: August 18th, 2014
The six man collective that is D-Operation Drop return for a second outing on Lion Charge, this time expanding the sound palette for a more ecstatic techno dub approach.
The A side ‘Body Rock’ is a rolling barrage of intricate drum work, swollen electro riffage recoiled around a four-on-the-floor bass charge and of course pulsating dub shots for good measure.
The 4x4 electro dub arrangements now synonymous with Lion Charge are in full effect on the flip. The B side ‘Sufferah’ is a steppers’ workout fusing dreaded bass movement with a swirl of digi-dub aesthetics, rhapsodic textures and invigorating snare patterns.
Featuring: Von D
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VON D HAS RELEASED HIS 2ND ALBUM ‘POSITIVE ENERGY’
Photo credit: Ali Mousavi
Everybody’s favourite Frenchman steps up to the mark for our next feature mix. His second LP ‘Positive Energy’ recently released on ‘Lutetia Dubz’ is a glowing reflection of the soulful side of dubstep which he has become well known for. After giving it a first listen, it’s clear that Von D is in a happy place. Inspired by his travels around the world, the album is a sonic testimony of a man enjoying life to the fullest, harnessing new experiences and ideas and translating them into majestic pieces of music. It’s a tough act to follow up the first album yet Von D shines through with a superb collection of deep-rooted rhythms soaked in blissful euphoria, just in time for summer. For a man who has been relatively ignored by his own countrymen, ‘Positive Energy’ lands at a time where the underground scene in France, notably Paris and Lyon is picking up and reaching new ears. The turnout to his album launch party drew in over 900 people, a figure which Von D would’ve never expected. But he deserves it. Already at work on his next EP, his drive and work ethic to exceed himself is unquestionable. For this reason, I was committed to include Von D to our exclusive ‘Featuring’ series and show some support of our own. Along with an engaging interview, he’s contributed a colourful mix as a testament to where he stands musically.
Paris! You are soon to be spoilt by our friends at Exploration Music. They are throwing a huge party over 4 days and 3 nights between Thursday Aug 14th - Sunday Aug 17th @ La Plage et le Club de Glazart. Lineup includes Youngsta, Δkkord, Presha, Naibu and many other established and up & coming talents (30 in total). All the information can be found on the event page re tickets and further festival details. Not to be missed.
Review: Indiji - Darknet / Shake The Foundations [UA007]
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B. Shake The Foundations
Release date: July 28th, 2014
Uprise Audio steps forward into summer 2014 with a debut EP from one of a few newly signed artists to the UA family. Waltford, UK based producer Indiji comes correct with two dense subsonic steppers, crafted to appease the soundsystem enthusiast and DJ alike. ‘Darknet’ and ‘Shake The Foundations’ follow up from Indiji’s ‘Machine Dread’ single included earlier in the year on UA’s Live From The Future Extended Edition LP. Both tunes aim to disperse a familiar dubstep sound, in doing so, these tracks deliver with formidable structure and production quality, defining Indiji as a clear-cut ‘must watch’ in the coming years.
'Darknet' chimes in at almost seven minutes in duration, not a short tune by any means. This track commences into an eerie synthetic atmosphere. A brief sample asks the listener “You’re not afraid of the dark are you?” immediately following the hook an immense pressurized bassline pumps through breaking the silence of the intro. I really enjoy mixing this style of kick pattern - a staggered kick with the definitive ‘snare on the second beat’ creates a solid sense of movement, and offers the DJ many options when blending with other music. Personally, tunes like this are at the top of my playlist as they offer me a tremendous amount of blending potential, having elements that would stand between another tune, yet defining its’ self in the mix. 'Darknet' progresses with subtle accentuations in the percussion. These subtleties as slight as they are, add to the flow of the track across its’ entirety. The sub bass in this tune really delivers full pressure. I enjoyed the movement in the low-end frequencies through out this one, it really harvests a dance floor oriented sound. Indiji was sure to supply the proper dose of mid range growls and grunts, showcasing an attitude he can call his own.
The flipside, ‘Shake The Foundations’ is my pick of the two. This track’s vocal hook sets precedence on the bass weight that is to follow the drop. This one encapsulates all the elements that I enjoy in a tune: distorted / warped vocal sampling, solid movement in the percussion, balanced mid range growls, ample bass pressure and a sense of attitude that harnesses the attention of an audience. ‘Shake The Foundation’ resonates with atmosphere and space, with a brilliant synth melody lingering behind the firm drum line and steppy movement of the sub bass. Trippy vocal clips permeate through the tune periodically, giving a voice to this otherwise vocal-less tune. Indiji’s use of melody in this tune is subtle, almost atmospheric, yet I admire the prominence that melody has as I listen through the track. I have begun to appreciate more so his atmospheres and percussion, and look forward to what future music he is set to release.
These two tracks are ideal components for a ‘deep dubstep’ enthusiast as they are concrete representations of dubstep that hasn’t lost its’ roots. While there is a stalemate within electronic music surrounding a lack of innovation, a track can progress and develop through out, building upon drum elements and atmosphere, switching time signatures and evolving the bass lines. I feel as if some listeners find dubstep to be a tad rigid or repetitive but I urge the listener to put them in a playlist and mix them with other tunes they are feeling. These two from Indiji are heavy hitting tracks that can surely devestate a dance. I can attest to this. I really enjoyed listening / playing these over the last couple of months. And I encourage you to check them out. Big shout out to Caan (Indiji), Edward Seven and to the entire Uprise Audio family. I anticipate the future of this catalogue. The artists involved with this label / collective are incredibly motivated to show the world what good dubstep sounds like.
Review: Vax - Chaotic Neutral / Hexerei [PH024]
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PURCHASE: BANDCAMP / DIGITAL-TUNES / ITUNES
01. Chaotic Neutral
Release date: August 4th, 2014
Portland based digi-label Phantom Hertz drops two techno-influenced heads down rollers by the Philadelphia badman Vax. Slowly inching his way back to that 140 template from his forays and dabbling with DnB rhythmic structures, Vax doesn’t disappoint (as if he could) and we here at TRUSIK absolutely love the tunes Vax is cranking out atm. PH024 is no exception, as Vax keeps up his Killawatt-like production pace in the form of ‘Chaotic Neutral’ and ‘Hexerei’ and all stars, signs, and augers point to an increasingly bright future. Label bosses across the pond take notice. Seriously.
Up first on the A side is ‘Chaotic Neutral’. This one has been floating around as a dub for some time now - doing the rounds in countless sets from American DJs like Conscious Pilot and Lurch (who has cut Vax to acetate) to name few. Tape hiss is grafted onto gently filtered kicks as ‘Chaotic Neutral’ cracks its way through dubspace. All of a sudden, loose and swinging 2-steppy drums start to make your shoulders samba and your dancing shoes to groove. Underneath the swing and skip, an undulating sub swells and beefs the kicks to make any speaker-box rock. Congas and bongos become layered atop the garage percs, creating a loping quality that mesmerizes and hypnotizes - conjuring images of the Hyades, the Pleiades and Aldebaran. As our star bodies edge closer towards the Seven Sisters sacrificing the bull, our form shifts from solid to gaseous, atom by atom we become undone, the space between all of us grows wider as a fluctuating, corrosive synth engulfs your astral self, fusing into the bipolymer strands your DNA. Soon the forward lean of the sub and the needling synth intertwine with the garage percussion to form a multi-tentacled riddim that pulls you ever closer toward Carcosa.
Meanwhile on the flip, ‘Hexerei’ is all micro-processed flecks of drums harnessed to a pneumatic b-line that quivers the rib-cage and will drive any soundbwoy into a frenzy. Paranoid snatches of breath flow from the center of dubspace to darken the dance up. Rhythmelodic bongos splash color on the monochrome grey that constitutes ‘Hexerei’ and will wear out those dancing shoes if you aren’t careful. Forgoing any decrease or ratcheting down of dancefloor energy, Vax peels away the dust of the drums and leaves the sub to plummet further down to the core of the Earth. The hot air escapes - what sounds like screams or gasps float toward the surface. The bongos realign themselves and ‘Hexerei’ continues to roll inward toward the center.
It’s the brilliantly simple stuff like the absence of a traditional ‘scene-setting’ breakdown that makes Vax such an interesting producer. His tunes aren’t reliant on samples to set the mood nor any flashy studio-trickery. His tunes are more like meat and potatoes, hearty and filling. They re-affirm why you fell in love with dubstep - for the bass and the drums and Vax does both in spades. Their strength comes from their simple urge to make you move. Labels both across the pond and here in the states should prick up their ears a bit more and pay attention to Vax, he is surely deserving of larger attention.
Review: Leon Switch - Deadlock / Persepolisia [CHST033]
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PURCHASE: VINYL / DIGITAL (LINKS SOON)
+ Lelyss [DIGITAL ONLY]
Release date: July 28th, 2014
After some hiatus due in part to the break-up of Kryptic Minds, Leon Switch finally returns, and returns in a big way with three heavy system shakers for Chestplate. While Si has transformed into Monic and shifted Osiris - one of the first new wave labels to push the post-brostep explosion of minimal dubstep, towards a more industrial, technoid vein - Leon sticks to his guns, crafting ‘Can’t Sleep’ era Kryptic Minds esque riddims that remind us what made Kryptic Minds so crucial and refreshing after countless Transformers-inspired wobble fests and constant pissing contests about who could make the biggest drop. That being said, what we are left with are what seem to be three KM songs and not Leon Switch tracks if that makes sense. They remind the ears too similarly to Kryptic Minds tracks. Granted, Mr. Switch was 1 half of KM, so it’s safe to assume that KM/Leon Switch are part and parcel, however say you were inna dance and heard any one of these beats, you’d probably think to yourself “Oh shit, a new KM dub!”. With my nit-picking aside, each track is guaranteed to shatter the dance floor and by no means let my opinion dissuade you from copping the wax.
'Deadlock' is marked by a booming voice on the definition of terrorism and on the tactics of population control via violence and coercion. Soon it fades to be marked by a LFO assault of swirling and twirling mid-range growls that menace and glisten like shark teeth. Cold hi-hats slice while an iron snare cracks ribs. Dubspace atmospherics haze across the soundfield as the growls subside. Anvil strength subs reinforce the lumbering hulk of 'Deadlock' but other than that, there isn't much else to it. It's sure to go off inna dance but it feels a bit by the numbers. Meanwhile, 'Persepolisia' glows open with 3am fog swirling above streetlamps. All sense of beauty is smashed with an almost 'The Fifth' like riff. The riff is more tasteful that 'Deadlock'. By which I mean that it's sparser and there is more room for sub-gymnastics for the speakers to do. But like 'Deadlock' before it there really isn't much substance (pardon the pun) to 'Persepolisia'. Both tracks simply move forward with dungeon wubs and not much else.
My personal favorite is ‘Lelyss’. Coming off like those more technoid ‘Can’t Sleep’ era tracks like ‘Fade to Nothing’ or ‘1000 Lost Cities’, ‘Lelyss’ floats with a refracted melody that gentle morphs from dull to sharp, preparing the air for a pneumatic pummeling of sub-bass frequencies. Not so heavily relying on a strictly half-time rhythmic structure, ‘Lelyss’ is a perfect mid-set pace setter so you can have to time to search your bag for those heavy hitters. Scissoring hi-hats reinforce the techno DNA of the riddim as hypnotic sonar blips ala ‘The Divide’ scan the outer reaches of dubspace for signals from Jah. Tasteful neuro-licks equip the sub sonics with some much needed bite and snarl. It’s a brilliant balance of light and dark that is probably the most fully realized track when compared to ‘Deadlock’ or ‘Persepolisia’.
All in all, Leon Switch’s first outing since KM’s demise is an underwhelming one, given the strength of Switch’s back discography. It’s disappointing to see a producer mine old tropes, especially ones that he himself created. Perhaps if this was released back in 2009 or 2010 it may have been stronger but too much time has passed since those first crucial KM dubstep tracks where released before Osiris went techno. Chestplate033 falls flat against the strand of time, relying too much on old tropes to get the dance moving and not moving forward sonically. Let’s hope Leon Switch can find new footing and surprise us with his next release.
Review: Wen & Parris - Caught / Collide [TEMPA091]
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PARRIS: SOUNDCLOUD • DISCOGS • TWITTER
PURCHASE: VINYL / DIGITAL
Release date: June 23rd, 2014
As of late #MinimalMondays has freshened up a bit with Yunx dipping into swampier territories. Old classics like ‘Swims’ and up to date 130 adds some swing after the departure of famed MC Toast. ‘Official’ recent moves have appeared with Nomine’s dub/tech/house soundscape of ‘Mindfulness’ off his ‘Enma / Zen Circle’ release. For the latest offering from perennial taste-maker Tempa, Keysound darlings, Wen and Parris team up for Tempa’s continued flirtation with slower tempos and lots of low slung bass. ‘Caught’ and ‘Collide’ come armed with spacious, zero-g atmospherics, future - tribal percussion, and b-lines rooted in the system tradition in aspects of weight while armed with a slinky, noir shuffle. Both are perfect and respectable DJ tools for the more exploratory dub-heads amongst us. Tempa seems to be finally seeing what darker 130 bass labels ala Pinch’s Cold Recordings or Keysound have been pushing for quite some time.
'Caught' slithers and coils around a bleeping melodic phrase, almost with a woodblock-like timbre. Eski swipes grime up the clinical, sterile atmosphere of space as a self-encircling vocal plays and dances around your head with the simple, childish words “you've been caught”. Spliced and reconstituted like a fine amen break, the vocal morphs and takes new forms. Loose toms jingle across a shambling rhythmic structure with tumbling sub-weight that it sure to put a quality rig through the paces. For how dark the beat is, Wen & Parris maintain a sense of fun and playfulness with interesting percussive flourishes that really add some character overall. It's a mongrel track that contains the necessary ingredients reminiscent of those early 2011 Swamp81 shows where every tune became an instant classic.
Going in on a more serious, meditative tip on the flip with ‘Collide’. Geared with watery hi-hats that emerge from the vacuum of space, ‘Collide’ possess more slink and a Beneath-like rolling quality to it. It’s tribalist kinks and subtly sexy breathy vocals caress whereas the bass ripples through bodies. Barely there, ghostly sonar blips scan the dance for signs of life as if the dancers where turned into something inhuman. Everything is ripped apart, leaving the mists of deep space to gather around a voice (possibly David Carradine) speaking on the masochism of man. The sample seems chopped or edited in some way that gives it an uneasy and vaguely threatening menace to it, as if it can see your soul around the edges of your eyes.
From the looks of it, Tempa is slowly inching its way towards the direction the numerous labels like Osiris, Keysound, and Cold Recordings have - finding the inky, black paranoid 130 tunes amongst the hordes of more bright tech-house/deep house/any other kind of house that has flooded dance floors across the world. Hopefully they keep mining this sound as the past couple of releases by Tempa have been, in all accounts, sonically conservative leaning towards traditional half-time dubstep. Both ‘Caught’ and ‘Collide’ shake Tempa out of this rut and are sure to be in the bags of the more forward thinking dubsteppers.
Review: Asylum - Always Love / Bad Habit [UA006]
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PURCHASE: VINYL / DIGITAL
A. Always Love
B. Bad Habit
Release date: June 16th, 2014
UA006 marks the third release of 2014 from Uprise Audio, featuring two dense pressured heavy hitting tracks from Asylum. Following up from Wayfarer’s ‘Afterlight’ EP in January and the ‘Live From The Future’ Extended Edition LP earlier in April, this two track release further cultivates Asylum’s signature style. A fortified fusion of movement oriented percussion and tribal accents mark both sides of the record. His compositions work upon stripped back minimalism that progresses with subtle additions and switch ups, coupled nicely with his definitive pads and atmospheric tone.
The A side features the much anticipated tune ‘Always Love’. The spatial intro showcases Asylum’s sparse minimalistic production, as spaced tribal hits lead into his signature crafted subs. An enchanting vocal sample meanders between the hard-hitting kick and sub bass pressure that permeates the field of sound. Crisp, full-bodied drum work pops through the thick sub bass, cultivating a powerful half step flow. This production is sure to grab the attention of dance floors all over the globe, as it carries a connotation of positivity while not sacrificing the sense of depth and darkness that Asylum’s music possesses. This track lingers in my mind as an exciting tune to mix as well as a fun tune to enjoy on the dance floor.
‘Bad Habit’ launches with deeply brooding synths crafted of tones that resemble Asylum’s individual sound. Carrying a less in-your-face vibe than the A side, ‘Bad Habit’ fits perfectly on the flip with its’ half step flow and deep atmospheres. Reverberated tribal hits mash with the sub heavy kick drums across the track. Pungent mid ranges growl above a hefty sub bass that fortifies the foundation for this track. Each of the two tracks signifies different vibes from UA artist Asylum, both showcase his strengths in production and rhythm. It is intelligently constructed release from Asylum once again, following UA002 back in 2012, and is sure to stand a notch above with its’ crisp mastering and full-bodied sound.
Review: El Mahdy Jr. - Gasba Grime EP [DN003]
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PURCHASE: REDEYE / BOOMKAT / JUNO / BLEEP / RWDFWD / NORMAN
A2. Gasba Grime
A3. Lost Bridge
B1. Crack-Addicted Bellydancer
B2. Lost Bridge (Killing Sound Version)
Release date: June 9th, 2014
Amidst the protest crackdowns and continuing Internet censorship in Turkey, contemporary electronic music has flourished again among the ecology of fear that has followed, and paradoxically it’s because of the Internet’s ability to create artificial loop holes, planes of escape, and temporary cyber inter-zones from the realities of the pitched street battles that we know names like El Mahdy Jr. Appearing alongside his contemporary Gantz on the ‘Spry Sinister’ deep medi plate, it’s El Mahdy Jr’s constant sonic experimentation that defies any logical attempt to pigeon hole his music into genre terms like ‘hip-hop’ or ‘dubstep’, allowing the strength of each arrangement to stand on it’s own two feet so to speak. Because of this willingly disregard for what I would call the ‘floor component’ or more generally a rhythmically friendly song that gives dance music it’s magick, El Mahdy Jr delivers the masterful and thematically coherent ‘Gasba Grime’ EP. Another collection that builds upon an increasingly crucial discography filled with rare import gems, one off white labels, and other wax that fetch high prices on Discogs. Much like the much-beloved Muslimgauze before him, El Mahdy Jr pays homage to his roots - the bridge between what was called ‘West’ and what was called ‘East’.
Mined from old flip-phone recordings of desert jam sessions, ‘Zarga’ blossoms with low audio resolution, like a still from a 90’s VHS recording, muddled with digital noise. It’s a beautiful lo-fi drone that shifts and morphs with tonal fluidity of hypnagogic visions. Broken fragments of a rhythmic structure appear only to be subsumed by the washed out drones. Voices from the ether caterwaul, while snatches of sazs and bağlamas punctuate the humid blanket of air created by the drones. The title track ‘Gasba Grime’ is sounded by hollow horn or flute like tones, until an obligatory dub siren cracks the void. A lurching beat is anchored eerily by a concentric ‘Memories of the Future’ era Kode-9 melody plundered from British Radiophonic Workshop archives. Voices - English, Turkish, Jamaican form a homophonic tapestry, tongues from Babel dubbed out. Grimy bass squelches keep things a tad rude given the mournful nature of ‘Gasba Grime’.
For all the dubsteppers, ‘Lost Bridge’ fulfils your 140 addiction. While not brimming with the ever-present sub-bass, ‘Lost Bridge’ makes up in atmosphere and tone, reminding me of later OM records or Al Cisneros’s mystical dub 7 inches on Sinai Records. Built upon a loping, loose half-time riddim, ‘Lost Bridge’ gives space to the tribalist percussion as soaring clips of Anatolian strings caress your cheeks like warm desert wind. Studio-trickery warps what sound like sitars backwards, coalescing into a thick gel of exotic melodies that turn your mind to jelly. In between this strange sonic brew, a voice urgent, zealous, premonitory intones in a language my ears do not know. It becomes another element, devoid of context, that raptures above the rhythmic foundation, and I find myself with goosebumps on my arms. Buried within the heady mix-down is a barely there string drone from an instrument unknown that will quietly coax your third eye open. The second half is counterpointed with swelling strings that ramp the energy levels up and overall melodic tension until they don’t resolve properly, collapsing back into that dubspace filled with splinter melodies.
'Crack-Addicted Belly Dancer', sounds like, well a crack addicted rap beat - fractured, tense, anxious, fidgety. A rough sketch of a beat - a few well placed kicks and some rim shots zombie-lurch everything forward, but you'll really get lost in a hash haze with the discordant organ drones/tones that remind me of Shackleton's more transcendent moments. A more apt description would be if Cannibal Ox reformed, moved to the Middle East and started cranking out beats on AKAI MPC 400. Saving the best (IMO) for last, Young Echo members Killing Sound tackle the stand out track (IMO) 'Lost Bridge' trimming the fat and creating a show-stopping tune that induces dread with the absence of what makes people move. Utilizing that heart of sleeve vocal cut and applying some time honoured dub science, the vocal becomes a cloud made of dubspace. Everything is exposed as snippets of the melange of melodies are refracted and looped. Skeletal percussion strikes like the slow hands of a clock as an ever -present sub bass circles likes carrion crows. Another, more feminine vocal cracks the empty space left in the wake. Sleight of hand dub trickery throws one or two odd ball sounds to perhaps release the oppressive atmosphere. Again, the yearning vocal that made 'Lost Bridge' is used at the end and once again diffuses towards dubspace.
In total, El Mahdy Jr’s ‘Gasba Grime’ EP explores more sonic terrain than his colleague Gantz in a tour de force journey that captivates the imagination and stuns the senses with it’s lack of genre constraints and wider experimentation. Given the current political climate in Turkey, the ‘Gasba Grime’ EP seems to re-invoke those feelings of urban decay, societal breakdown and overall malaise that early dubstep captured so well in the early ‘naughts. Only it’s filtered through a whole other horizon of understanding, which makes for an interesting take on how to release anger, confusion, resentment, hopelessness through a more culturally appropriate form that the forms of D&B or 2-step Garage. It’s another gem in an progressively vital discography that I imagine, in the near future, Discog sellers will charge exorbitant prices. Best be quick and snatch it up while you can!
Review: TMSV - 1988 EP
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1. Intro / 1988
2. Reality (feat. Ill Chill)
4. Blood Dragon
6. Far Away
7. Move On / Outro
Release date: May 12th, 2014
Coming off like the long lost soundtrack to Refn’s Drive or if Vangelis moved to West Coast and listened to g-funk all day, TMSV’s self-release EP ‘1988’ invokes the high definition glare of Los Angeles and the the dystopian elements implicit within it’s skyscrapers, it’s skid rows, in it’s foundation. The ‘1988’ EP is a complete and utter change of style for the Dutch Wonder, who’s more known for constructing meditative, percussive workouts favored by Mala or Vivek. Here, TMSV’s highly refined melodic taste is indulged with all the bombast and glamor that was LA in the 80’s and channelling his love of hip-hop beat-smithing, crafting a fully engaged and unpretentious EP that sounds like something Soulection would rep.
'Intro / 1988' opens with a collage of field recordings of spaces and places not seen but heard, until it gives way to building synth washes that rise like steam out of the sewer drain, as an mournfully operatic melody pokes it's way through the streets. Huge, thunderous claps mimic the gunshots that bounce off of row houses and cheap flop hotels, while the washes become reinforced with piano chords that fill, giving teeth to the ethereal billows of sound. It's scene-setting music that would could have been used when Rick Deckard goes to the massive Tyrell Corporation monolith in Blade Runner. If 'Intro / 1988' evokes the world cities of Tokyo, Shanghai, or Dubai, 'Reality' is that chill cruising music that you'd bump driving around town in your SLAB at four in the morning. It displays TMSV love for hip-hop if you've ever locked for his Rood.FM show. Icy, clinical melodies match the flickering lights of cell towers or the patchwork of corporate buildings with various rooms illuminated. An MC by the name of Ill Chill spits bars of space travel, astral projection, time-travel, and the desire to go beyond the present to the future. While the lyrics themselves are nothing to write home about, they fit the spacy and interstellar juju of the beat. Meaty 808's give some hefty to the emotional, yet sonically porous textures that swirl like purple haze.
'Sundown' cuts with crisp hi-hats that would taste like Sprite©® as swollen lavender tones sound like the last gasping breaths of the sun as it sinks behind the curtain of the Pacific Ocean. A heaving boogie bass-line lopes as lurching and loose claps, finger snaps, and snare hits form an interesting snare accent, as a Vangelis-styled solo shimmers like sunset upon the waters. 'Sundown' possess a balance that hits between chill with it's melancholic solo and bright melodic accents, yet increases it's menace as the darkly subtle, 'Crunk-esque' synth timbre is deployed at the third section of the song. Meanwhile, 'Blood Dragon' balances things out nicely by add some overt darkness to the proceedings, everything before this point has been menacing, not threatening. It's the oddly harmonic drones that kick the song off that really give this track it's teeth. As everything builds, a revolving, head-warping melody encircles itself, coiling and uncoiling like an ouroboros as you stare in your rearview mirror at that shrinking skyline behind you. Delicate hats and snares give 'Blood Dragon' it's forward momentum, but in all honesty it's the swelling rhythmelodic loop that makes 'Blood Dragon' its loping, lost highway vibe.
The highlight of the EP (at least for me) is ‘Respite’. Opened with a sample regarding death and love and the power of love to conquer death (sample hunters, please tell me where it’s from, I know I’ve heard before somewhere). While the rest of the ‘1988’ EP has relied on the torpid and spliff-induced bpms of hip-hop, ‘Respite’ plays with speed, slowing down to draw out its melodic tapestries, only to speed up the next second with hi hats that sound like an uzi being fired. A warbling g-funk solo begs for us (the suburbanites) to start c-walking and throw up gang-signs like it ain’t no thang. While its all still grafted onto a hip-hop framework, Respite’s playing with different hi-hat patterns is a welcome change to the otherwise moon-walking pace of the EP. ‘Far Away’ is geared with an almost electro-house synth pattern, but grafted onto a rap beat, as a circular melody of a flute (maybe?) spires up in the air as a bird would do, until it collapses and arcing g-funk hum the body electric. Wisps of some wino siren pierce the night veil across the rain clogged streets of LA before the sun rises. All of a sudden the hi-hats double time as your neurons start to misfire creating tracers as you pass the orange-yellow haze of street lamps going 70 mph. Everything becomes washed, unclear as if you were underwater, and all you can do is slump in the driver’s seat until it stops, if it will stop.
The ‘1988’ EP closes out with the aptly named ‘Move On / Outro’. A sample regarding the ever-constant fuss about dance music “copy, paste, profit” formula may be a call to arms or maybe another voice in the discussion, or maybe a proxy of TMSV’s views. Either way, it’s anchored by a lumbering, slow-haus sub-line armed with 80’s boogie synth tones and a fractured drone that sounds like a church choir in reverse. Again, a g-funk sine solo cries like some lost ghost doomed to repeat itself again, again, again, again. As the song draws to a close, the sample is extended, railing against label executives, managers, and the whole of the “record business”. It’s a fitting choice, and a provocative one given that TMSV is self-releasing the EP. Perhaps something happened, but that’s conjecture and not fact. All in all, the ‘1988’ EP is a delicious slice of sun-ripened hip-hop that meshes TMSV’s love for hip-hop and his soaring and exquisite melodic tastes. It’s a totally unheard move in dubstep circles to simply switch to something so radically different, but TMSV pulls it off with class and taste. One can hope that others follow in his lead. From the Vangelis dystopian space opera synths that wildly soar across the firmament to the low-slung gangster funk of the late 80’s, early 90’s TMSV creates an engaging, engrossing, and thoroughly listenable experience for the those last night cruises through an empty world city. Pop this one in your cassette deck and ride slow homies.
Review: LX ONE - Reflect / Distorted Politics [WHEELYDEALY043]
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B1. Distorted Politics
Release date: April 28th, 2014
Things have been somewhat quiet for LX One as he preps his debut album. Either way, his next single feeds us the nectar. N-Type’s Wheel and Deal label finally drops MinimalMonday favorite ‘Reflect’, backed with surprisingly meditative, tribalist work out of ‘Distorted Politics’. Following Tempa’s aural ideology of massive subs, lots of empty space, and a percussion-sense paranoid - not any likkle soundbwoy will withstand when the speakerbox rocks.
On the front end, ‘Reflect’ seeps like a fog rolling in, hollow blue atmospheric noise generated by synths creep unto that voice utters REFLECT! REFLECT! REFLECT! A clarion call to look with inside yourselves, an eye-socket shivering sub becomes armed with spherical wubs the color between purple and yellow. Crisp 808 accents keep things tastefully refined given that rude bassline. Short, sweet, direct, and without pretense ‘Reflect’ is designed to smash floors and systems anywhere. However, with such a bombastic A-side, I’m more interested in the flip, ‘Distorted Politics’. Surprisingly, it’s a much more low-key affair. With a tribalist agenda, Mala would be remiss to not have this in his bag. Armed with natty bongos and an undulating sub in the soundsystem tradition, ‘Distorted Politics’ builds to a climax as a soft, ever increasing blip moves the mind to other spaces. The rhythmic negative space is filled with noxious aerosols or the smoke of a spliff (or two). A perfect roller, yet powerful enough to hold its own and sway the dancers to and fro, ‘Distorted Politics’ (for me) comes out on top of ‘Reflect’.
Keeping with his overall sonic persona, LX One graciously tides us over, teasing us for his long-awaited and eagerly anticipated solo debut. For now, us soundbwoys and soundgyals will have these two riddims to slake our thirst and subdue our hunger until the main course arrives.