Son Raw is live from M-troit.
Taking a pause from writing about grime this month to cover some bass music a bit further at the outskirts, but in case you haven’t checked it out, the P-Money vs Dot Rotten clash has been absolute fury at over a half dozen tracks as of writing, and you should probably find a bootleg MP3 of Jamakabi’s ‘Hot it Up’ on Bandulu, as the wax sold out in about 20 minutes.
Wen’s music has always existed at the intersection of grime at its rawest and electronic music’s more experimental edge. Signals, his debut album for Keysound, was a raw and unvarnished collection of beats that reminded me of early Skream, but in the years since that release he’s worked to tighten up his production, seeking more sophisticated territory. Carve + Gaze continues that process, subverting grime’s morphing squarewave into IDM headiness that would fit nicely next to Zomby’s more psychedelic material, and arriving at a synthesis that can fit comfortably in both a UK-bass centric set and an all out experimental outing.
Named after a lost dub from Dusk and Blackdown’s earliest dubstep phase, C-Troit is an EP that comes with a bold mission: combine Detroit’s euphoria with Croydon’s darkness and see what comes of it. Part of Keysound’s Rollage series, it’s a club-centric EP of eerie synths and adventurous percussion, the type of techno too weird for most techno sets, which is almost definitely why I like it. Blackdown’s always seemed a bit weary of getting pinned down by the “dark 130” moniker some of us (ahem) tried to pin on Keysound’s post-dubstep excursions, but if the term seemed so fitting, it’s because dark, rolling bass music is such a natural fit for the label. With fellow travelers like Durkle Disco and Jellybean Farm adding to the conversation, it seems that this long germinating scene is still very much worth following.
Aerotonin & Opus
Speaking of Jellybean Farm, this LA-based label has made a lot of noise in very little time, dropping two compilations back to back at the top of the year before expanding into a series of singles, all squarely aimed at the dark, 130BPM bass music space. They’re a welcome addition to the scene (and a rare American bass label that feels up to the minute on what’s happening) and their latest single from Aerotonin and Opus is a great introduction to their sound. At the intersection of jungle, dubstep, and the more interesting areas of techno, tracks like “Extraction Point” swing, bounce, and land with a satisfying kick, and will be a welcome addition to the record collections of DJs tired of the same ol’ drum patterns. One to watch, this one.
West Norwood Casette Library
Bob Bahmra’s West Norwood Casette Library has been floating around since the post-dubstep days both as a label and as a producer alias, releasing faded, sampledelic takes on dance music. While a lot of it leans too House for my tastes, Hardcore Librarianism on Sneaker Social Club is EXACTLY the kind of nutty, off the wall dance music that makes my heart beat at 150BPM. The key to a good hardcore track is to go all in, so my favorite tracks here are undoubtedly “(Everytime You Touch Me) I Get Hype” with its hyper-kinetic rhythm and “Feeling Too Big to Dance’s” proto-jungle rave up, perfect antidotes to the 128BPM steadybeat blues. Best played loud, on a giant speakerstack.
Finally, look out for Hitmakerchinx’s Shades & Monsters compilation on Nightslugs, which collects the LA-via-Brooklyn producers’ early Flex Dance Music tracks for consumption outside of BK dance compilations. UK labels “plucking” localized dance music producers from America’s inner cities and packaging them for European consumption is a trend we really should be looking at more closely to see who benefits. In this case however, much like Local Action’s great DJ Jayhood compilation, the packaging is great, the producer seems happy and onboard with the process and the results are very much deserving of wider appreciation. Somewhere between instrumental dancehall, hip hop, EDMm and (of all things) emo, these tracks are far, far left. Give ‘em a shot.