Son Raw’s playing as Sub Zero.
Hindsight being 20-20, Logos’ otherworldly Kowloon EP will probably go down as a second starting point in instrumental Grime’s renaissance – the moment where a new wave of producers looked to the genre’s otherworldliness to complement the rave-ready styles brought to the forefront by the Butterz crew. Even today, the square-wave synth lines, sparse drums, bass and space that make up tracks like “Atlanta 96″ sit firmly to the left of everything popular in dance music. Propulsive and anthemic they ain’t, but by exploring the areas in between the beats, Logos opened up new possibilities for the genre both in terms of form and emotional resonance. Now, after a triumphant year that saw him co-launch London club night Boxed and release a handful of bangers with partner in crime Mumdance, he drops Cold Mission – an album that pushes forward not only Grime, but electronic and urban music, full stop.
Built almost entirely out of blasts of synthesized sub-bass, industrial mechanics, failing bleeps, found sound and digital debris, Cold Mission might have been titled “a soundtrack to an imaginary film” in kinder, earlier, times. Were you to cross the paranoid sci-fi of Blade Runner with the skunk-smoked aggression of 4th world London, you’d almost lock down the dread darkness that permeates the album. Reaching back to frozen, de-tuned synths of early Metalheadz and Wiley Kat, Logos removes them from a dance music context, instead positioning these sounds as lost signals, culled from a pirated airspace on the verge of extinction. Only the most head-strong will dance to these tracks, but just about anyone can appreciate them during a midnight walk through the rain: the album’s nooks and crannies owe as much to Vangelis as they do to 4Hero, reconfiguring a style of music made for rapping and dancing into an album made for blunt smoking and introspection. This doesn’t make it better than a Royal-T banger, but it does create new possibilities: we now live in a world where we can have both.
Moments of levity act as counterpoint to the otherwise all encompassing dread. “Alien Shapes” with Dusk & Blackdown might soundtrack the Mos Isley Cantina were it to ever throw a rave while “E3 Night Flight” and the previously mentioned “Atlanta96” co-opt nature sounds and major chords to counterpoint imagery drawn from urban council estates. Meanwhile, “Wut it Do,” the album’s one unrestrained banger, acts as a perfect release mechanism after 33 minutes of building tension, exploding the album’s signifiers into a barrage of break beats, Reese bass and pitched up threats. To Logos’ credit, this is a rare full-length emerging from a dance music context that feels like a proper album instead of an art-project or collection of tracks – every piece fits and everything clicks. While it’ll more than likely scare the living daylights out of those who prefer their instrumental beats warm and soulful, fans of musicians as stylistically distant as Aphex Twin and Burial will find plenty to love here. As for the original massive – the gauntlet has been thrown down: does Grime have room for a spaced-out, introspective album, or is this something new? Either way, it’s a fantastic ride and one that bodes well for the future of London’s music scene.