First release on Youngsta’s “new” Sentry label. Although why he should decide to enter the label fray now with such a bland offering is anyone’s guess? When you’re talking about Youngsta (DJ sets or co-productions etc.) it doesn’t really matter who the artist is really. Whether it’s dBridge, or whoever, is kind of beside the point; it all has to sound, with barely any deviation over the years, the same old = plod. Carrying on my train of thought from Karma’s release, this is surely a case of the Emperor’s New Clothes; dry and by-the-book generics; all psuedo-academic chill and irritatingly prim and precise, with a final squirt of mandatory rasta foolishness/sauce to mask the denuded taste. No tweaking or risk taking of anything whatsoever (over a decade now and counting!?!) Unbelievable that he’s actually lauded for this, as a kind of ‘focused’, no-sell-out, aesthete. Their scene, their little duck pond, not mine, thanks be.
A fuzzed-out and minimal, head-nodding, clanker. Not sure if this would really cut it in the sound system department and I can’t see this one lighting up any dance floors it’s so muted?, but it shuffles along nicely with all the design for purpose of a bubbling bong.
A superb new EP of pitiless, dystopian bleakness from the blasted, no-man’s land specialists DNS.
Far from evoking an underwater glide as the titles suggests (it just sounds too jagged, too ploughed up and ruptured to evoke the cold liquidity of the atlantic trench? A grim hunt, sure, but) ‘Radar’ feels rooted in a cold and lifeless landscape: Sea or land metaphors aside, this is probably their finest black ops, deep insertion yet. A rusty metallic beat clanks hard through the sinister creep of mustard gas FX and drone, while the bass saws and belches are so smeared out by reverb they merely fizzle limply above the wasteland like desperate flares put up in panic by wired sentries – highly unnerving and original.
There are possibly some comparisons to the likes of ARtroniks et al. to be made here. There’s a definite sub-cadre (away from from the big name dubstep ‘dons’ and labels) expertly crafting away in grim defiance who mercifully don’t seem to give a shit about producing according to the whims of the times, who don’t want their sound to be decorative, but true. There’s no false musical consciousness, just a kind of stoical grunt work that hits harder – DNS are dug in deep to their territory in this respect. Just don’t try a frontal assault on their position!
Like the Krease EP, essentially slowed down drum & bass. It has all the trappings of ‘dark’, has all the right ingredients and is certainly tech crafted, but ultimately it feels so self-conscious and self-regulated it almost sounds tired and by the book. Just makes me want to go and listen to the Moving Fusion, Ram Recs et al. back catalogue again. One for the bag no doubt, but a prisoner of its own devices.
Jay Krease from Dead Noise System. Sounding very like a cleaned up, slowed down and paint stripped, minimal techstep tune (with nods, surely, to “Shadow Boxing”?) old school, timestretched, raaaaasta vox shenanigans and a ridiculously low rolling sub. This one doesn’t really go anywhere – just a moody, hoods up, foot shuffle, head nodder while toking hard on your reefer in the dark corner. Quality restraint though, with “hold the line” discipline.
Something I used to love about old school hardcore was the use of heaven/hell, light/dark, silly/nasty juxtaposition. It always worked on a crowd under the influence. The cloying, nagging, diva sample, wailing some banality that in a fevered state might have seemed profound, the cheap piano vamp putting hands in the air – and then the drop straight into some hellish triple reversed filtered mentasm/dominator/hoover whatever. Who knows how many brain cells were lost to this nirvana?
“Mischieved” (no full clip out there?) took me straight back to that era; a repetitive, looped, falsetto female voice trills away in the upper reaches before a truly ugly and lumpen, prolo jackboot bass crushes it with its heel and locks into a juddering metronomic groove. Expert heaven and hell dynamics.
“Run Dem” is equally fine but with a slightly more generic beat (the snare cracks exactly where it should, a Ragga sample says “Run Dem!” before the drop…you get the drift) and to be be honest there’s hardly enough difference in the original and the Mershak remix; a bit gnarlier maybe but kind of a pointless exercise.
It’s almost refreshing, with all the other straining and striving going on from many other producers, to hear someone who just plain knows exactly what he wants to sound like, knows exactly how to do it and just puts his head down and throws down a mechanoid, cold, banger. No chinks in the production, no amateur edges, no indecision, just smooth and blank as a Great White’s predatory glide. In fact, one barely feels the influence of human hand or touch at all it’s so icily tech. But that’s no surprise as ARtroniks productions very rarely waver from top notch on that front.
This has all the required bleakness and paranoia for late night headphone spliff sessions too. The ARtroniks remix wins by a margin by ratcheting up the sawing and grinding bass ingredients, making it even more robotic and alienating.