September 19, 2013

Son Raw has gone through 150+ war dubs this week. Please stop.

In case I haven’t made it obvious, Visionist is a shoe-in for my producer of the year. Equally beloved by Grime’s new wave and the amorphous East Coast beat scene coalescing around acts like Nguzunguzu and Fatima Al Qadiri, he’s slowly developed his idiosyncratic, vocal-based style over the course of the year, hitting us almost weekly with new music. With minor key arpeggios and digitized wails recalling sources as varied as Aaliyah and Zaytoven, it’s a haunting style that nevertheless retains Grime’s aggressive masculinity.

His I’m Fine EP on Lit City, an American label best known for Footwork releases, further cements him as one to watch, but rather than rely on dancefloor killers, it’s a brave move into emotional content aimed at the heart. A break up record, I’m Fine positions Visionist as a contemporary answer to Zomby (or even… Burial), reshaping hard street styles into darker, more introspective avenues. Even when he goes all in on the headsmacking Escape, there’s a cavernous space that sits outside of Grime’s traditional down and dirty purview, hinting at the work by iconoclasts like Ruff Sqwad.

He also runs Lost Codes, a standout new label in a year that’s seen several instrumental Grime outlets pop up. Rather than simply release hot beats from the rising tide of young producers operating in the genre, Lost Codes has kept a remarkably consistent aesthetic – keeping things darker and noisier than most and avoiding obvious stylistic retreads. Their latest release by newcomer Saga comes hot the heels of a massive Bloom single, and proves once and for all that there’s still life in Wiley’s sub-zero Eski style assuming it’s crafted with proper care that expands on the original ideas rather than rehashing them.

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