Son Raw Son Raw got bass for your face.
I’ve spent the past several months figuring out what I was going to do with this column and two things became obvious. 1) I’m not reliable enough to be monthly, so it’ll land on this site whenever the inspiration hits. 2) Most of the second generation of grime producers I was interested in from 2012-2016 have moved onto other things, and the current scene only partially interests me. As such, I’m not going to overthink it and will cover whatever weird electronic music happens to grab me any given month. With that in mind…
Etch – Lore of Samurai
Etch is a producer who’s been on my radar since Keysound’s Certified Connections compilation, and he’s slowly been working his way through every possible permutation of breakbeat oriented dance music, from revivalist jungle to 130BPM experiments to Footwork-inspired 90s rap flips. On Lore of the Samurai, which will be dropping on Altered Roads, a new label he’s co-running with fellow Keysound alum Parris, all of this experimentation comes into focus, crystalizing into high impact jungle that keeps that genre’s energy, but pushes it away from drum n’ bass’ tired cleanness towards the murky depths you might expect from an act like Forest Swords. It’s entrancing stuff and a worthy expansion on the ideas first sparked by grandmasters like Source Direct. Ace video too.
Sam Binga & Chimpo ft. Trigga & Killa P – Fargo
This one just dropped and as of now, it’s not even meant for release but that just makes the video more compelling. Flipping Jon E Cash’s classic sublow sound at high speed drum n’ bass tempos is the sort of thing that can go terribly wrong but in the hands of Binga and Chimpo, it’s a flawless victory connecting jungle’s ragga roots to grime’s early minimalism on a contemporary flex. Emcees Trigga and Killa P are particularly inspired choices on the mic, rudeboys who excel at a unique UK sound that remains evergreen no matter what particular style is in fashion at the moment. Gun fingers a plenty.
Biome – “Hoods Up Dub”
Lots of dubstep producers have made moves towards techno in recent years, but none have had to make fewer changes to their core sound than Biome in order to make the leap. His 140BPM music was cold, steely, and seemingly carved out of weird metallic alloys, so all he’s done on an EP like Fargo is change up the drum patterns—and it works. There’s a clear antecedent here in the music of artists like Pinch, Mumdance and Logos, and tracks like “Stealth” and “Trench Foot” sound absolutely smashing in the mix next to their bangers. There’s thousands of techno variations dropping every month, but for my money, this frigid corner carved out by a select few British producers is the most interesting right now.
Gantz – Dying on Acid
Deep Medi’s position as dubstep’s answer to Metalheadz is a gift and a curse. A gift because of their well earned cred and ability to put out absolute anthems like Spyro’s Topper Top, and a curse because over the past few years, they’ve sometimes been relegated to releasing musical comfort food for a core fanbase that’s more backwards than forward.
Gantz has been a force for good on the label, pushing them away from the standard template and towards weirder, lo-fi hip hop inspired sounds, but Dying On Acid goes considerably further into the deep end, to great effect. Opener “Fugazi” is all plucked harps, bong rips, and broken loops—I’d hate to hear it on salvia, while “Shivy” and “Sharkeyes” feature left of center emceeing over smoked out beats that nevertheless retain the label’s signature bassweight. It’s the title track that steals the show however, a multipart suite that would sound perfectly at home at Low End Theory.
Spooky – “Snow Forest/Funky Dub”
Finally, leave it to Oil Gang to convince Spooky to release two legendary dubs from his vintage. “Snow Forest” has been his most in-demand exclusive for nearly 10 years now and it’s pure eight bar madness, full of crunchy distortion on the bass and haunting flutes on the high end. It adds up to the sort of grime that was weird a decade ago and remains weird now. “Funky Dub,” meanwhile, dates back to the UK’s late aughts shift towards bass-heavy house, with soca-snares aplenty and a carnivalesque energy that twisted grime towards party music just as much as it pushed house towards London rudeness. An essential release for anyone into the original grime sound, and its early steps out into the world.