April 26, 2013

Son Raw wrote this while sipping a Singha.

Bass music intellect Kode9’s latest single, “Xinfu Lu,” is ostensively named after a Shanghai clubbing street. Pardon my skepticism, but after spending the past few months in South-East Asia, I doubt any club on the continent is ready for this. In fact, it’d be a hard sell in Europe or America, let alone China. Choppy, abrasive, and sporting a melody fit for a Kubrick film about China’s capitalist rise, “Xinfu Lu” evokes a Chinese street but not one dedicated to clubbing. Instead, I picture cybernetic hawkers chopping BBQ pork, shifty salesmen selling bootleg casinos and hookers peddling their wares to unsuspecting tourists. It’s as if Kode9 internalized the science fiction themes of last year’s tribute to Chris Market’s La Jettee and grafted them to the Asian futurism that’s always inhabited his work. Kode9 has always pulled this material off with a deft touch, avoiding orientalist cliches, but “Xinfu Lu” is particularly subtle: using Footwork as a foundation, he’s created the perfect soundtrack for the best Tony Leung spy thriller that never was. Wong Kar Wai should direct.

B-Side “Kan” is more direct, still sporting queasy synths and a sci-fi paranoia but making its debt to footwork even more explicit. It’s easy to imagine this ACTUALLY working in Chicago dance battles, at least more so than that watered down Chance The Rapper track the Hivemind wants you to go Gaga over. Only the king list synths on the outro mark this as a UK production, yet by remaking Chicago’s ghetto music on his own terms, Kode9 somehow delivers the 2013 answer to Acid House. In any case, it’s a brilliant stab at forging a new path for UK club music, one as different from Keysound’s 130BPM darkness as can be. That’s a good thing, it means post-House London is still anyone’s game and there’s plenty of room for contrasting ideas to clash and combine. I for one look forward to the results.

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