August 21, 2012

Son Raw: reppin MTL since 1984 but is not affiliated with this label.

Montreal label Raw Records’ free debut compilation is a couple of things: a collection of sick up to the minute beats, a major step up for the local bass music scene and a perhaps a tipping point for a couple of talented young producers.

When Dubstep took Montreal by storm a few years ago, gleefully shoving an aging and voided generation of fashion-oriented clubbers out of the way, the scene’s accessibility and DIY ethics inspired everyone from suburban metal-heads to street-smart rap producers to try their hands at the new genre. Like most musical experiments by eager teenagers, the results weren’t always tasteful and Dubstep’s explosion in popularity and rush to the bottom didn’t always encourage forward thinking music. Even in its embryonic stages however, it was clear that there was potential in this new community of dubwise producers, with years of practice and increasingly sophisticated tastes rapidly synthesizing into exciting new possibilities for a local electronic music scene starved for new ideas. Flash-forward to 2012 and this surge of creativity is manifesting itself in a new homegrown strain of bass music combining Hip-Hop, Footwork, Funky House and more, finally delivering on Montreal’s potential for urban music.

With 6 producers stepping up, the compilation isn’t lacking for variety. Hesk (whom I’ve previously written about) contributes another 160BPM killer in Ho, moving away from the soulful loops he’s previously been known for in favor of something more aggressive while his occasional partner in production Paveun goes in the opposite direction, contributing a ravey number built out of a wailing diva sample. Kid Bassline hews closer to American Dubstep’s humor on Hype Shit but replaces the genre’s growling histrionics with lazer synths and Trapaholics drops for a trap banger than actually bangs. Dear Lola drops the most subtle contribution, a melancholy exercise in broken-beat sample science that nevertheless strays from neutered Mount Kimbie territory while the aptly named DJ Fuckyobitch and Thømas White deliver left-field and bombastic takes on Hip-Hop respectively, the later flipping 808 snares and horn samples into an organic stomper worthy of Fizzy Womack.

For a city that’s still fighting an unfair reputation as home of the hirsute and impish who spend as much time thinking about their scenester-scumbag looks than their music; Raw 000 is a major step in the right direction proving that Montreal’s world renowned party scene can also deliver cutting edge, globally competitive beats sans-irony and smarminess. From their humble beginnings as kids raving on the floor to this latest release, it’s been amazing seeing a generation of DJs and producers take inspiration from abroad but also integrate their own city’s stylistic quirks into their music, and Raw records has done a sterling job of documenting their growth so far.

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