Son Raw’s debut double-album is called Summertime ’96
Try as I might, this monthly review keeps ballooning back up thanks to a surplus of great material, meaning this is another two-parter. I’ve removed the word “Grime” too, in keeping with a widening stylistic purview and the whole grime/not-grime debate. Keep your eyes peeled for another vocal wrap-up in the coming weeks as well.
First up, my pick of month goes to Tarquin’s Gobstopper debut, the noggin-twisting Kid U/Lost My Marbles. While the competition for Grime’s strongest label has been fierce this year, Mr. Mitch’s imprint has been near unassailable when it comes to introducing new artists and Tarquin only enhances their run. “Kid U” is sugary sweet garage turned on its head, check out my Fact Singles Club blurb for more. Meanwhile, “Lost My Marbles” is an absolute headfuck, reclaiming the LFO squiggle from its America and somehow combining it to what sounds like an electric shock. A must-buy single, and one I’ll have more on soon, so watch this space.
Next up, Bristol’s Blacklink imprint returns with their second vinyl-only single, this one courtesy of Ireland’s Shriekin. Sino-Grime floater “Red Beach” has been bubbling for over 18 months on dub status, but it hasn’t aged a day since its first play, updating grime’s 8 bit video game aesthetic to a lusher orchestral template fitting for a producer who grew up in the Playstation era. It comes back with “Too Right,” a darker, tougher plate complete with eski clicks and bird chirps, and both tunes hit a perfect sweet spot as someone who’s played one too many JRPGs and fighting games. Throw in a couple of A1 remixes from Strict Face and Slackk–whose slowly building roller isn’t a million miles away from a Mala production–and you’ve got a plate that won’t be on shelves long.
Ipman is a new name to readers of this column, but he’s been making noise for a minute in darker bass music circles, gaining significant traction among followers of the dark, don’t-call-it-techno sound that’s taken over Pinch’s Tectonic records. Regicide/Ghostrunner is a warning shot ahead of a full length LP on that label, and it’s possibly the most fully realized version I’ve heard of hardcore music’s latest mutation. The A-side is pure junglist fury, but reworked at 140BPM and kept swung, distinguishing it from the stiff, bleached material that ran the breaks scene into the gutter a decade ago. “Ghostrunner,” meanwhile, fits in neatly with Bristol’s 128BPM excursions. If you’re still stuck on dubstep, here’s your exit strategy.
Australia’s Mokona is a producer working across Grime’s weightless and ambient spectrum, and he’s a welcome addition to the sound. Much like fellow Aussie Strict Face, his approach is a liberal one that takes the genre’s penchant for melodies and bird sounds as starting point before veering off into space, but whereas Strict Face favors bold melodies, Mokona’s production is fully chill. As such, his Breathless EP features a Blade Runner sci-fi grit akin to Different Circles’ spaciest output, but also an organic quality and a clean tone that makes it more approachable than a lot of quote-unquote “experimental” grime. This one’s for listeners who like peaceful waterful sounds to complement their gunman tunes.