November 22, 2016
Credit: Vicky Grout

Son Raw went to 5 raves in 4 nights.

It’s peak grime season out here, so much so that I’ll have to put out another wrap up just to cover the full lengths and Mix CDs that have dropped or are about to. Look out for that before year’s end. For now, let’s dig into the singles and EPs that have been dominating Autumn’s dark days.

Spooky– “Fiesta” / “Cherry”

First up, Oil Gang is back with not one, but two very different singles from the legendary Spooky—a solo platter on the dancehall tip and a dark and dangerous record in collaboration with the label’s resident engineer and rising star Boylan. At this point, Spooky probably doesn’t need an introduction, but it’s worth reiterating just how unbelievable he is as a DJ: I caught him stepping up to Boxed vs Local Action 30 minutes late, only to proceed to slay the place with dubplate after dubplate, effortlessly packing in an hour’s worth of music into his condensed set. This 6th sense for what works extends to his production, “Fiesta” flips THAT R&B anthem into a rapid fire sheller’s anthem, while “Cherry” gently updates a roots reggae standard of the same name for the 808 generation. Better yet, “All Black Winter” and “Low Rider” with Boylan are darkside rollers landing at the intersection of grime, trap, and dubstep without losing sight of that UK rollage. Essential anthems pressed to lovingly colored wax (and I hear Oil Gang has yet another Boylan banger dropping next month…)

CluMood EP

On the complete opposite end of the spectrum, Oil Gang’s Boxed counterpart Mr. Mitch jus introduced the world to Irish group Clu via his Gobstopper label, and it’s another fearless release by an institution expanding grime’s parameters. To be clear, Clu is clearly influenced by the genre’s sonic palette, but their Mood EP is to Wiley as James Blake is to Mala—several steps removed and in a far more emotional space. I’d usually be one to tisk tisk this stuff—I like my grime more roughneck than not—but as usual, Gobstopper has an incredible ear and these four tracks all connect, from the vocal-ladden “MOOD2098” to the extended eski deconstruction “Trance Lament.” Full length potential in abundance.

Grandmixxer People Over Money EP

Grandmixxer’s another name making waves on the DJ circuit thanks to his outstanding mixing and selection, both solo and backing Novelist’s high energy live show. He’s also proven himself behind the boards with a frosty, minimal style, but until recently few of his productions have made their way out into the world for mass consumption. People Over Money remedies this, providing three exemplary takes on Grandmixxer’s sino-grime influenced style. The recipe’s simple but deadly: take the Korg Triton’s key grime sounds and arrange them in frosty, unfussy patterns with a heavy dose of robotic DJ drops. Perfect for winter weather and pairs up nicely with…

DJ Sinclair – “Ricky”

…DJ Sinclair’s Keysound debut. Depending on who you ask, DJ Sinclair is either the hottest newcomer on road, or the thinly veiled alias of a scene veteran—I’m not telling. Either way, “Ricky” and “Gunman What” take all complaints regarding grime’s tendency to recycle sounds and riddims and hocks a giant loogy at them—essentially rebuilding “Pulse X.” “Gunman What” rides for 2016 with little interest in anything else. Get mad if you want, but these tracks are deadly, particularly “Ricky” which nods to the classic darkside anthem “Scotty” as well.

Youngstar Bongo Remixes

Speaking of Pulse X, Musical Mob’s Youngstar AKA the guy behind the first grime riddim ever, created a host of variations on that trademark sound at the turn of the millennium, and White Peach Records has just re-issued “Bongo” with three ace remixes by some of Bristol’s finest. Kahn and Neek’s take probably stands as the draw, a dark and minimal remix perfect for the kind of hybrid grime and dubstep sets they’re currently delivering across North America alongside Mala. For a more hectic take, Hi5Ghost has you covered, delivering the kind of clap per minute ratio that will have true believers calling for the reload. Finally, Impey’s 6668 Bar remix is the rare grime-to-Jersey-Club merger that properly works, upping the dance factor without losing the grit.

Impey Midnight in Little Havana

Impey’s also the man behind Midnight in Little Havana on Astral Black. Having already distinguished himself with a vinyl-only plate on Sector 7 as well as remix work on Coyote, this feels like a proper debut, one with ambitions beyond the club without forgetting to be functional. Balancing Funk, Club, Techno, and Trap influences and merging them to melodic grime, the EP’s compulsively listenable but every track remains a potential draw, depending on the kind of set a DJ is playing. Definitely an emerging producer worth keeping an eye on.

Nights vs Charlux – NSX002 

Finally, I don’t often write about vinyl-only releases here, but Nights is a producer I’ve been following for a second thanks to a few choice refixes, and he’s recently put out his second white label plate on his own NSX label, this time alongside newcomer Charlux. All four tracks hit hard with a combination of darker than dark atmospherics and crisp claps that will have the Radar Radio line up drawing for the reload. Only 200 copies pressed, so grab ’em quick.

See you soon with coverage of the new ones from Yamaneko, Kahn & Neek, Mumdance and Logos, and Letta.

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