Son Raw is a broken machine
Hindsight being 20-20, Belfast-based producer Bloom’s Quartz EP was a major line in the sand for instrumental Grime. While Butterz had already moved the genre away from mixtape-centric rapping towards a clubby instrumental focus, Quartz acted as a sort of Pulse X 2.0, tilting the playing field back towards the sort of weird, musique-concrete inspired sounds that were hinted at but not quite fully developed in the Eskibeat days. In short, he took a genre with weirdness in its DNA and amplified it, setting the stage for every subsequent movement from Boxed, to Lost Codes to Bandulu. To be fair, the genre’s continued ascent would have almost definitely happened without a guy living miles away from London, but it sure wouldn’t have been the same either.
The Hydraulics EP, Bloom’s first release in over a year, pushes his aesthetic to its breaking point. The rhythms are even more disjointed, the sounds more aggressive and seemingly sourced from nightmarish factories full of broken machines. It’s the kind of music that demands a physical reaction – be it repulsion, confusion, or delirium and euphoria. When I first heard it, my first thought was that this is the craziest thing since the first time I heard Dubstep. It’s a comparison I stand by given just how much this record not only refuses to play by dance music’s rules but threatens to beat them to a pulp and leave them for dead in some back alley. Someone needs to send Loefah a copy.
Surprisingly, given how threatening this all sounds, it’s still a very listenable record and I can imagine this stuff filtering into the wider pop universe. In an era where Kanye West called on Evian Christ and Arca to produce Yeezus, there’s no reason he couldn’t or shouldn’t be asking Bloom for beats in 2015 – if you want to elevate the underground, this is how you do it. In the meantime, let’s hope it doesn’t take another 18 months until we hear from Bloom again. In a field that’s grown far more crowded since he made his debut, Hydraulics proves he’s more vital to the scene than ever.