Son Raw is swimming with the sharks now
First up, Celestial Trax has followed up his debut single on Rinse with the Verticals Video for Purple Tape Pedigree (see above), promoting their new streetwear collection and their debut NYC show, next Saturday. What these means, in practical terms is that a fly girl models fly clothes to a dramatic track landing somewhere in between a trap banger and the opening theme to Final Fantasy. The great thing about Celestial’s beats is that he captures the “post-Internet” vibe that acts operating outside of London draw from, but never strays too far from the grittiness that makes the genre a street, rather than Internet based form. I’ve also heard rumors that he’s collaborating with an up and coming producer we’ve recently featured on this site, so keep an eye out…
Lost Codes veteran and Space Loops cassette composer Filter Dread dropped his MIDI Space single on Ramp this month, and it’s a weird one. Displaying an exceptional talent for synthesizing old styles into new shapes, Filter Dread is exhibit A for those who think this kind of music deserves a new genre tag. Blending Jungle’s breaks, Dubstep’s wub, Grime’s oddball sound effects and Funky’s carnival-influenced percussion, tracks like Clowns from Outer Space and MIDI Fighter are rave distorted in a funhouse mirror – everything is recognizable but somehow the proportions are wrong and the whole thing looks like it might tip over into chaos at any minute. If you pine for the days when Zomby wasn’t signed to Deerhunter’s label, check this out.
Wen has already cemented his spot as one of 2014’s brightest thanks to his killer Signals LP on Keysound, but he’s not resting on his laurels. His absolutely devastating live set at Reconstrvct featured countless new dubplates fi’ dem, hinting at a rapidly expanding cache of new material waiting for a home. His collaborations with newcomer Parris have been particularly rewarding – Caught, the A-side to their Tempa debut, is about as minimal as bass music gets, floating on little more than sub bass pulses, hi-hats, and synth washes direct out of the Metalheadz/DMZ playbook. Throw in one of Wen’s trademark vocal samples and it’s this year’s most counterintuitive banger – a track whose paranoid energy rests on the denial rather than reward. Daddy Loefah would be proud… and he should probably be taking notes. As for the B-side… Kill Bill. ‘Nuff said.
So far, College Hill is a name you probably aren’t familiar with unless you’re listening to the most subterranean of radio shows, but that’s set to change if he delivers more material like his UK Trends debut. A-side Statement of Intent starts off like a standard Grime riddim: hard hitting drums and bass pulses galore. Then that electric guitar hook comes in and if your heart rate doesn’t get going, you might already be dead. I can’t stress this enough: electric guitars never work in dance music, but College Hill nails it, letting the distorted shredding sit in the mix rather than overpower the proceedings. Sahaquiel v4 (My Career, The Industry) on the flip is equally interesting, lowering the intensity in favor of an abstract melody grounded by martial percussion. An eye catching and original debut that hints at future promise.
Finally, Nottingham based Special Stage Audio are a new label that have cut through the noise with some interesting releases this spring. This month’s Cake Tray EP is particularly strong, with Delity’s Saccharin capturing the “trapped in a video game” vibe Grime does best. Equally impressive (and just as reminiscent of classic games) is William Skeng’s Symbiotic Wetsuit riddim, a chilled out slice of melodic square wave music by a Boxed favorite. Keep an eye out for their forthcoming single from Littlefoot as well – there’s some gems on there.
Catch you next week with an in depth look at Inkke’s Local Action debut.