April 10, 2014

Instant Son Raw – just add beer.

I’ll spare you the Rakim line – suffice to say that since I last wrote a round up post, a whole lot of releases and mixes have grabbed my attention and now you get to reap the benefits. The theme this week is dynamic opposites: artists, labels and genres stretching out in multiple directions at once, a strategy that’s leading to some very interesting music.

First up in the must-hear-release category, Australian producer Strict Face makes his official debut on Mr. Mitch’s Gobstopper label with Fountains/Highbury Skyline. Coming off the back of his absolutely devastating drum led B Riddim from the Baked Haus compilation, you might expect some high energy club material here, but instead the single goes left… way left. A logical follow up to Mitch’s own Room where I Belong EP, both tracks float with an almost ambient detachment, grounded only by crashing snares, bass hits and other denatured, industrial sounds. The results are as compatible with Nobuo Uematsu’s classic Final Fantasy scores as they are with anything Slimzee would have once played, but while the structure and purpose of these tracks may have been disolved in acid, the textures and sounds are very much linked to the genre’s ancestral roots. It probably won’t tear up clubs, but it will certainly soundtrack a lot of long walks back from them and now I’m left wondering what it would take to hear an entire film soundtrack’s worth of this stuff.

Not to be outdone, Butterz has also been stretching out, albeit in completely different directions. After a short interlude for their American tour, which notably saw Swindle tear up Montreal alongside Plastician, the crew returned to radio with a vengeance. Since January, Elijah and Skilliam have hosted Youngstar, Eastwood, P-Jam, Wonder, DOK, Kahn & Neek, The Heatwave, Flow Dan, Slimzee, Riko, Preditah, Bloom, Murlo, and Visionist. A murderer’s row of DJs and MCs if I’ve ever heard one. This week, they invited Slackk, OilGang and Logos from Boxed for what can best be described as “The nWo vs. The 4 Horsemen” of instrumental Grime, even if the intended back to back session had to be cut for time. Everyone came one hunned, but check out Logos’ set in particular – it’s absolutely mind melting.

And yet, this unquestioned dedication to Grime is what allows Butterz to try new things. Their latest single, Royal-T and Flava D’s three part On my Mind, is easily the most House friendly release in Butterz history thanks to its slower tempo, euphoric vocal and feminine pressure. It’s a direction very much on display on Elijah & Skilliam’s forthcoming Fabriclive mix where they combine sophisticated but uptempo dance vibes with top notch emcees and their trademark quick mixing. This makes sense, when Butterz started out they acted as an alternative to the bleakness of Dubstep then dominating discussions. Today, this latest material acts as a similar gateway drug for those seeking more exciting variants of House, roping an ever increasing fan base into their high energy aesthetic. One step ahead, as always.

Finally, some mixes for the massive ‘dem. Shriekin’ Specialist and DullahBeatz both dropped highly engaging hours of music for Spectrum Blog and Boxed respectively, with Specialist leaning towards oriental strangeness and Dullah taking a heavily trap indebted approach. Visionist guested on Rinse FM for 2 hours of broken down, industrial emotion, effortlessly switching between slower, Techno-indebted material and higher tempo Grime – a highly promising show which hopefully leads to additional radio appearances. Finally, DJ Darkfruit caught my ear with the extended mixing of Smooth Blends Volume 1, which goes against the grain by overlaying Grime tracks for minutes at a time in the quest to find new sounds through synthesis. If you’ve got a transatlantic plane ride as I do next week, this should sort you out.

We rely on your support to keep POW alive. Please take a second to donate on Patreon!