Conducta’s Kiwi Sound is a Ray of Sunshine in Cloudy Times

Son Raw finds the perfect antidote for the relative decline in UK Garage music.
By    March 11, 2020

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Son Raw’s going to need 5 missed calls for the reload. Telemarketers don’t count.

By my count, UK Garage has been in a revival since approximately 5 minutes after it was declared over. In the past decade or so alone, we had Burial’s mournful headphone nostalgia, Butterz’ Grime-inflected, Bassline heavy TQD supergroup, and a half dozen mini-movements ensconced in the wider Bass Music scene. Not that the sound needed to be revived in the first place: whenever I’ve been to London, there was always an old-school night happening, with the sound’s originators playing 90s hits to a grown and sexy crowd. Hell, at the Born & Bred Festival in 2015, they were playing those same hits to girls young enough to be their daughters and getting the same raucous reactions. It’s a truly evergreen scene and one just as valid as its more staid cousins, House and Techno.

So let’s put aside the term “revival” entirely and focus on what’s important: Garage is in rude health and Conducta’s Kiwi Rekords is the crew currently capturing the world’s imagination with the latest, bold, fresh take on the sound. Focusing on 2-Step’s sexiest rhythms and merging them to a contemporary sound palette that wouldn’t feel out of place in contemporary R&B, the label’s recently released ‘The Kiwi Sound’ might just be 2010 Dubstep’s mirror opposite: girly, summery and unabashedly fun. While that would have made it right at home during Garage’s 90s peak, it’s a welcome outlier in our more troubled times, when the UK music scene is fractured between experimental sounds more closely resembling IDM than proper rave music and vocalist-heavy genres like Afroswing and Drill. While all of those movements are worth checking,

The Kiwi Sound scratches a particular itch: uptempo DJ-centric UK dance music in the sound system tradition. Collating tracks by a close-knit family of producers including Conducta himself, Sharda, Sammy Virgi, mind of a dragon, and Prescribe the Vibe, the mix is a testament to the idea that Garage wasn’t an era or a moment but rather the center of fully fledged a musical tradition stretching back to clubbing’s earliest days, one that’s still producing vital new music best experienced on the dance floor.

The mixing is fast and furious, the tempo furious and there’s nothing here that’s remotely chin-stroky or overthought – it’s just hard hitting tunes to get you moving. Best of all, with dance record shops mostly shuttered and listeners moving away from MP3 downloads, the whole thing is licensed and up on streaming platforms, making it the perfect gateway for anyone looking for a hit of exciting dance music. The Kiwi Sound is undoubtedly a scene watermark, but given the music is this fun, it also has the potential to be a stepping stone to much bigger things.

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