July 11, 2014

Son Raw apparently skipped June.

It’s been a heavy month (and then some) since my last Bass music wrap up, and the new wave of artists combining Jungle’s rhythmic shifts, Eski’s stark intensity, and Dubstep’s bassweight shows no sign of slacking. In fact, I had to divide this update into two posts, for fear of burying great tracks too far below the jump. Part dos Monday, amigos.

First up, Goon Club Allstars cofounder Moleskin just dropped his devastating label debut, and it more than lives up to the sky high standards set by MssingNo’s XE2 EP. While that release focused on sickly-sweet melodies and a near-ambient lack of percussive thrust, Moleskin’s self-titled effort inverts the formula, delivering 20 minutes of banging DJ food. Heavily influenced by Jersey and Baltimore’s club scenes and akin to the Her Records compilation we covered last week, tracks like We Been Ready and Clemency come complete with air horns and spin backs for maximum devastation. It’s the darkness that sets these tunes apart from your average Jersey knock off however, and Moleskin adds more than enough personal touches to push past established templates into new territory. Another great release by a label that’s three for three.

On the opposite tip, Novelist just dropped his production debut on Oil Gang, bringing Grime back to its stripped down, Dancehall-inspired roots. Tracks like Sniper are little more than sparse loops with room for an emcee, forgoing any bells and whistles, but that’s a welcome change of pace considering the arms race towards maximalism and arty abstraction that some producers are engaging in. Not that there isn’t material for the dance – Nov’s Mee2 remix is carnival ready, assuming this year’s carnival’s taking place inside a Pacman machine. All in all, a great example of how to keep new Grime grimy, and with whispers that Nov is recording his debut album at XL studio and Take Time still blowing up, this kind release should only add more fuel to his fire.

Speaking of Take Time, its Mumdance-produced b-sides are absolute killers. The Sprawl is a total mindfuck of a tune that sounds like a Sentinel from X-Men going into epileptic shock, while Don’t Get Lemon with Grime-veteran Spyro is a scene-unifying move that should kill any talk of division in the dance. That said, Mumdance’s most surprising material isn’t Grime at all, but a collaborative mix CD with Bristol Legend Pinch exploring their common interest in dark, broken UK Techno. Pinch B2B Mumdance strips both producers down the bare essentials, making for a listen that’s as disorienting as it is intense. While things occasionally get a tad too stripped back, MNML is over for a reason, I can’t fault the sense of dread and each producer’s desire to move beyond their current confines, whether Dubstep’s rhythmic calcification or Grime’s niche status. With so many a micro-scenes jostling for attention in Bass music right now, this kind of ultra-personal mission statement is a welcome “what if?” charting potential new directions both for its authors, and for the producers orbiting them.

Finally, on the vinyl-only front, Local Action quietly dropped an exclusive three-track single by Finn this week, collecting some of his hottest dubs including Boxed-favorite “Keep Calling.” Dicing massive R&B samples into chop suey, all three tracks are the kind of cheeky crowd pleasers that’ll have copyright lawyers up in arms and club goers with their arms up. Beyond their functionality, they’re also a reminder that Grime used to be much closer to straight up Hip-Hop than the experimental electronic stuff it’s currently slotted next to. Hood politics surrounding Cam’s recent London no-show aside, check any mid aughts street DVD for extensive examples of The Diplomats’ influence on UK emcees, an afinity that extends to their production team, The Heatmakerz, and their kitchen-sink approach to sampling. By updating the style for 2014, Finn (along with his contemporary Milktray and his Milkmakerz project) provides a much needed dose of soul to the game. It ain’t all about squarewaves and sines.

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