August 1, 2014

Son Raw drinks Dom Perignon.

While plenty of labels are putting out fantastic Grime-related music in 2014, Local Action might be the imprint that’s best captured the genre’s overall scope. From DJ Q’s vocal Garage to Finn’s R&B-sampling choppage to Slackk’s cinematic abstraction, the label has showcased just how diverse UK music can be, hitting every angle. Their latest EP by Scottish producer Inkke adds another dimension to their output – glossy, 3D club tracks that bang without going for an EDM overload or spaceship sized sonic embellishments.

Splitting the difference between the gigantic Trap of fellow Scots like Hudmo and Rustie, and raw club material by peers like DJ Milktray, Inkke’s Grime debut is polished to shine. That’s not to say there isn’t any grit to Boxed anthems like Daisy Chain, the genre’s raw synths are still on display, but everything is mixed for maximum expansiveness, hinting at a reach beyond the couple of thousand people following the scene around London and online. Which is to say that you can dance to most of these tracks without knowing the difference between a devil mix and a peace edit – a key advantage in a genre that sometimes goes for weird for weird’s sake. Zen is the perfect example and the EP’s standout track, delivering an aquatic atmosphere that will have Drexciya fans drawing for the reload, all without relying on Techno’s rhythms. It’s this openness and inviting sonic atmosphere that singles out Crystal Children from the pack, and Inkke’s best moments are when he rearranges UK rhythms into something not all together grimy.

Thankfully, when Crystal Children actually does go hard, it doesn’t cut corners either – tracks like Think Star and Ultraviolet wear their Dizzee Rascal samples and pounding Pulse X stabs on their sleeves, even as they surround them with jazz chords and killer sound design. Still, when it comes to bringing the pain, remixer Gage walks away with the crown, reconfiguring Think Star into a percussive flurry of bass drops, claps and vocal twitches. It’s an absolutely punishing track in the best way possible, and it plays to Gage’s strengths just as much as the groovier numbers play to Inkke’s. Ditto for the EP’s concluding Paradise , a strong vocal track taken to the next level by producer JT The Goon’s gorgeous Sino-Grime remix.

Having already dropped a number of edits and a Hip-Hop mixtape, Inkke’s sonic identity is still in flux and Crystal Children confirms that he’s not committing to a single music path. While this means the EP occasionally falls into dance music box ticking (the rave track, the radio track, the vocal track…) it also hints at a ton of untapped potential, as any of these directions are ripe for exploration. At a time when electronic music is more in flux than it has been in a long while, that can only mean good things to come.

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