Sometimes Son Raw rhymes slow, sometimes Son Raw rhymes quick.
Perhaps the highest compliment I can give to Proc Fiskal is that his music makes a mockery of the file sorting system I made for my music library. On the surface, it was easy enough to slot The Highland Mob, Fiskal’s first Hyperdub release, as high speed grime that combined the label’s commitment to accelerated dance music to its post-Garage roots. If anyone was going to release a footwork-compatible take on the London sound, it was Hyperdub. I saw tracks like “Skulka” as clever ways to stand apart from what was rapidly becoming a very busy grime scene while also tying into the innovations by acts like London’s Novelist, but in hindsight, this 160BPM concept was just a starting point.
The recently released Hello Boss EP on Om Unit’s Cosmic Bridge label proceeded to explore additional possibilities opened up by this tempo, reconnecting grime to its jungle roots. Meanwhile, “Megabus” from last week’s excellent Boxed compilation proved that Proc Fiskal doesn’t need to stray from grime’s 140BPM template to create a banger. So, yeah: It’s impossible to figure out whether I should be sorting this stuff in my grime, jungle, or footwork folder, but that’s what makes it thrilling.
“Dish Washing” from Insula, Proc Fiskal’s forthcoming Hyperdub LP however, takes things into a whole new world, finding common ground between hardnosed Eskimo templates and wistful electronica. This isn’t as strange as it might seem on first glance: Critics have been noting the similarities between Dizzee and Wiley’s more tender moments and Ryuichi Sakamoto’s early ’80s synth work since before grime had a genre tag. Early grime productions were almost mercilessly skeletal, but whenever they weren’t they were painfully vulnerable, the works of young men only just emerging from rough childhoods.
Proc Fiskal’s home in Edinburg is a long way from Hackney but it’s not unfair to wonder if the 21 year old might be drawing on similar emotions, as “Dish Washing” is positively soothing. The skittering percussion reaches IDM levels of complexity without that genre’s drive towards awkwardness and the sino-inspired melody floats atop with effortless grace. Better yet, he sustains this blend of rapid fire futurism and nostalgia for the near-past throughout the album*, making it an excellent addition to Hyperdub’s catalogue that somehow intersects with Burial, DJ Rashad, Ikonika, and Terror Danjah without sounding quite like any of those names. Ultimately, it’s very much a grime record without sounding like any other grime record, and that bodes well for the genre’s continual evolution.
*I’m writing off first impressions, but best believe they are good ones.