Hench tunes always make me feel tired and old (and I mean that in a good way). I find it strangely reassuring that there are young men out there wasting their youth on this thoroughly unpleasant, bleak sonic battering ramage. It takes a certain mettle of character to stay unwavering on this particular path and there’s scant reward at the end of the day, let’s face it. Certainly in technicality it’s far superior to the idolised non-entities of “craft” (the Jeff Mills, the Hawtins, and any other cretin variation thereof). So I find and hear hope in it.
‘Death Dealer’ is ultra tech, crisp, choppy stop-start, gnarled wobble business. Functional to the point of pitiless and everything tight and right in the mix. ‘Vortex’ is little more than an angry, mechanistic loop running on and on, filtering nastier as the track progresses. Again expert tech construction. There’s some respite in a sticky, false Trance nirvana halfway before it boshes back into the machine hell.
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.
Very occasionally “Dirty” Dubstep (or is it still “Brostep” I wouldn’t know? or care) throws a curve ball and delivers something have decent, whether by accident or choice is another discussion altogether. Unlike its cousins (“Dungeon”, “Deep”, “Wobble”, whatever) this particular field of production suffers more “problems” than any other – one of which is it shares much with the Hip-Hop world: either the tracks SUCK! – and I mean criminally, or they bang! There’s rarely any grey area, getting away with it, or in-between redemption or interest. Ultra (adolescent) masculine, testosterone laced and more often than not bordering on the clownish, in the producers attempts to “out-goon” each other in the ludicrous bass/midline/pseudo-boombastic wankery, it often seems about as appealing as a sweaty rugby club changing room and dodgy, post match drinking games.
This one’s an industrial banger though. Reined in and stripped back, with quality cybernetic, metallic hammering, drilling beats, cock backs etc and a big underpinning sublow pressure.
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.
Footwork/Juke producer and former DJ Rashad collaborator comes correct with this monster Grime/Bass banger.
I heard ‘Ghosts in the Machine’ on a recent Mumdance/Rinse FM show and while it’s a totally polished, bolt-action DJ tool (with an almost vintage Slimzee/Youngstar/P-Jam bounce) to rinse out at peak slot witching hour, ‘Where do you go at Night?’ is the heavyweight capo di tutti capi. A superb rumbling avalanche of doom bass, all paranoid reverse loops and cavernous claps, taking it into a different arena altogether. Guaranteed to be a huge tune over sound systems.
Big ups too for keeping business faultlessly short and sweet. No padding or bull.