Son Raw’s October Instrumental Grime Wrap

Ziro, Hi5 Ghost, Jook, It's Foundation, Geng Grizzly, and White Peach records.
By    October 30, 2015


Son Raw is the consensus candidate for badman of the year.
Catch his next show on East Village Radio,
October 30th (that’s tonight!) at 10PM EST.

Most of 2015’s big releases have come from artists and producers who took their first major steps last year, artists now elevating their game with bigger and more ambitious projects. That’s completely healthy, but by the looks of things, a whole new wave of producers and a few quiet veterans are ready to make a splash as we rush into 2016, and this instrumental wrap up is all about shining a light on innovators beyond the usual suspects.

Ziro Lionheart EP

First up, Ziro returns to Crazylegs with his Lionheart EP. Helping launch the label in 2012, he’s been quietly operating behind the scenes ever since while dropping the occasional free download, and he’s obviously been hard at work: Lionheart fits in perfectly with the label’s aesthetic while breaking plenty of new ground. Described as something at the intersection of grime and techno, the title track reminds me of neither, existing completely in its own space: Seriously, I have no idea what time signature it’s in, and DJing it will be a challenge, but it’s lush, confident, and a must-listen for fans of label mates Gage and Bloom.

The latter appears on “Strafe,” a more conventional number rhythmically, although that’s all relative considering its crushing blasts of industrial noise and trance synths. There’s even an appearance by Roll Deep vet Riko Dan on the tribal-chant sampling “Dun Talk,” and he’s possibly the only man with vocal chords gully enough to go toe-to-toe with Ziro’s percussion. Crazylegs have been exploring the limits of new UK music all year, and this might be their biggest triumph yet – definitely this month’s must buy release.

Hi5 Ghost – “Nook Shot”

Bristol’s Sector 7 Sounds don’t release many records, but when they do, they dominate the conversation. Closely affiliated with fellow darkside grime dons Kahn & Neek, label heads Boofy and Lemzly Dale have nevertheless developed their own sound, further pushing their explorations into the darkest, dreadest dub territory.

The label’s latest comes courtesy of Hi5 Ghost, another close affiliate, and it’s made to destroy dances. “Nook Shot” combines minor key flutes, pounding kicks, Dizzee-rascal gunshots, and plenty of rudebwoy chat into an looping, heady riddim. Crucially, it sounds like a versatile one: it’s definitely a sound ready for the dance, but it’s easy to imagine the new generation of emcees destroying it on radio as well. The B-side is equally intriguing, with new-school dubstep producer and deep Medi vet Commodo slowing things down to half-step crawl, full of sour pulses and tribal percussion. It’s the kind of flip that’ll have dubstep’s viny hunters fiending for this release, so you’d better get your copy soon. “Nook Shot” is available from all fine retailers on November 1st.

Jook – Lean Back EP

Jook’s a Brighton-based artist whose name I’ve seen floating around for a minute, but I do believe the Lean Back EP on Certified Bangers is his first official release, and it’s definitely one worth paying attention to. I’ve heard a lot of darker grime this year, and to be frank, not all of it has been quality, with too many tunes coming off like Kahn and Neek clones. Jook on the other hand, not only nails the style, but also brings a unique twist to the proceedings.

B-side “Alarmed” is sleek and minimal, reminding me of the best oldschool sublow, only enhanced with this decade’s production quality – this is a massively underappreciated style and that makes “Alarmed” the kind of tune that’ll stick in my crates for a hot minute. Ditto for “Lean Back’s” middle-eastern sampling bump and “Lucy’s” chiller darkness – just when you think they’ll go the obvious route, Jook hits you with a new percussive twist, or an unexpected sound. You can definitely catch me playing this one on radio for the foreseeable future.

It’s Foundation – Compilation EP

It’s Foundation records is another new discovery on my end, and their latest release is sick. Though I haven’t managed to buy a copy (the Canadian dollar is NOT looking good right now, fam), I’ve been stuck to the SoundCloud for a hot minute thanks to big tunes by hot and up-and-coming artists alike.

Trends & Neon Beatz take the A-side and the results are predictably on-point: I don’t think there’s a producer on Earth right now who twists nastier sounds into more interesting shapes than Trends. Equally strong however, is Neffa-T’s “Poison Clan,” a lowkey gem that’s popped up in quite a few Slackk sets this year. Looking forward to hearing much more from him in the future.

Purple Tape Pedigree

Stateside, Geng Grizzly has been a crucial connector between New York’s experimental club sounds and the instrumental wave taking over the UK. His Devil Want my Soul parties bring A1 lineups to the city on a regular basis and he’s taken his Purple Tape Pedigree brand from blog to label like it was nothing. The label’s latest comes courtesy of Gang Fatale and Her Records’ CYPHR, and it’s a smack in the face to my 140BPM-obsession, reminding me that innovative sounds come in all packages.

Flipping between the warmth of funk samples and the coldness of digital malaise, the entire record’s perfect for slow and low sets, but “Never Enough” is my personal standout – flipping the kind of funk loop QB emcees would have ganked 20 years ago, but adding heavyweight 2015 percussion and eerie, vapourwave samples of Japanese dialogue. Keep an eye out for all involved, and cop the vinyl.

White Peach Records

Finally, White Peach records just came through with their latest four tracker, another multi-producer variety pack made for the DJs. I’m a big fan of experimental sides, but there’s something to be said for music created for and aimed at club selectors, and this is a label that never fails to deliver.

This time, Scruloose leads the release with the cheekily named “Scrutinize.” Underground heads may have caught one of his Wiley remakes over the past year, but he’s been quietly working on originals as well, and this feels like a break out moment. On the flip, Vacant, Lington, and Shudan all deliver square-wave bangers – tunes that are very much a part of grime’s established format, but that still push the form into darker, techier territory.

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