Soon To Be Innocent Fun #3
WORDS BY THEO KOTZ
Welcome back to STBIF – This was meant to be online at the end of January so apologies. I dropped my computer on the floor and it’s taken me this long to retrieve the hard drive. Anyway here are some records that I think are worth shouting about.
Breakbeat, bass, dubstep or whatever. A couple of years ago these names had been discarded or abandoned, and the inexorable march of 4/4 techno threatened to slurp up the entirety of the darker side of British dance music. While that may be a simplification, in 2017 the landscape feels radically different. These once-maligned sectors of the musical terrain are being revisited in greater numbers than at any time since the beginning of the decade. Given that within these genres the spirit of experimentation of risk was so present, this can only be a good thing.
AS ALWAYS, CLICK ON A PIECE OF ARTWORK TO HEAR THAT RELEASE
HAPPA – PT/3.1
'Hallucinations' has been knocking about as a radio rip for a couple of years now. Great to see this rabid piece of pits-of-hell darkness finally see the light of day. 'Bum Trance' is also outstanding: carrying all the muscularity and aggression that he’s built his name around but with intense bursts of irradiant melody. Probably the best release from someone who’s still so young.
BENEATH – NO SYMBOLS006
(NO SYMBOLS, 2017)
Another producer that’s been doing it so young. Beneath again makes ample nods to various schools of breakbeat culture and it feels super refined despite being weird as fuck. 'Cack' might be one of the most strange and compelling pieces of music I’ve heard: cascading mews of ghoulish synths, Beltram tech-house growls and relentless, combative drums.
JUMPING BACK SLASH – SLOW OCEANS
(COTCH INTERNATIONAL, 2016)
The first release on Peckham’s Cotch International, Jumping Back Slash’s Slow Oceans is a chopped up hybrid of a vast web of influences from the gqom and SA house sounds of his adopted home in SA to more western RnB, hip-hop and techno. 'The Siren’s Call' is my favourite – Nonku Phiri’s voice is like butter on warm bread, softening the slithering menace that loiters beneath.
WILEY – MORGUE INSTRUMENTAL
(WILEY KAT, 2003)
I keep hearing these 8-bit midi sounds out and not just in grime sets either. It got me thinking about what my favourite Wiley track is and after an afternoon of retroactive plundering, I settled on this. Shinobi vibes.
WAX – 30303
'UNTITLED (HEY Ø HANSEN MIX)'
I’ve written about Shed on this site before (you can read why I think you should listen to Shedding The Past over on Dig and Discover). I remember him once bemoaning the death of UK Bass and the slide to the homogenisation of techno.
Please ignore the tenuous link to the theme of this list and have a listen to this record. Loose, low-slung, groovy-as-hell dub techno, this is Shed at his understated best. The ‘Shd Ø San’ side is amazing but the horn stabs and irresistible bassline make the ‘Hey Ø Hansen’ mix the star. Barely under control, the track pulls at its shackles and delivers a thrilling sense of unease. The video of it set to Jan Svankmajer’s ‘Food’ film is true to this as well.
DJ NERVOSO – DJ NERVOSO
(PRINCIPE DISCOS, 2016)
Nervoso is basically the godfather of Batida. Veterans of the scene that’s been tearing up Lisbon for more than a decade (and, thanks largely to Principe Discos, exploded far beyond last year) revere him as one of the first to mould the Angolan sounds of Kuduro and Kizomba into what we hear today.
As someone new to Batida and what’s been going on in Portugal, when I heard this record I was blown away. It’s so simple – barely three elements to any track, but it feels like you’ve stumbled across this wild party. There’s echoes of the clipped, incessant percussion you’ll hear in SA house or gqom and but the flavour is unique. Breathless, sexy and captivating.
SHACKLETON & VENGEANCE TENFOLD – SFERIC GHOST TRANSMITS
(HONEST JON'S, 2017)
'SPHERIC GHOST / FEAR THE CROWN'
Thick, pregnant imagery painted by spoken-word artist Vengeance Tenfold is set to quasi-religious backing by the monolithic talent that is Shackleton. Despite song titles like ‘Dive Into The Grave’, and ‘Spheric Ghost/Fear The Crown’, the sonic landscape is actually brighter than much of what’s come before from the Lancashire man. That said, it still snarls and growls with gothic menace – this is Shackleton after all.
NIROSTA STEEL – FOXY PUP
(HOLLIE RECORDS, 2013)
'FOXY PUP FT. ARTHUR RUSSELL'
This edition’s obligatory fix of Arthur Russell. Recorded in 1985 and released in 2013, these tracks by Steven Hall were engineered by Russell and feature his voice and cello as well. Sludgy but somehow breezy too, with subtle evocations of Reed, Cale, Simon and even Springsteen.
DONAE'O – BLACK
(SELF-RELEASED w/ ISLAND, 2017)
'BLACK FT. JME & DIZZEE RASCAL'
Banger. Drums, bass, keys, horns and that hook - all of it killer. Donae’O’s bars stand above JME and Dizzee’s to be fair but this version has something extra compared with the original from a couple of years ago.
dBRIDGE – FASHION DREAD
(SENTRY RECORDS, 2017)
Weighty 140 of the highest order. dBridge makes his second appearance on these lists because he’s a don. Both sides are not to be messed with but the flip is the real gem – when that alarm starts building the genius of this track becomes apparent.
SPECIAL REQUEST – STAIRFOOT LANE BUNKER
Medium length EP from Paul Woolford. Almost all of these tracks made it on to his recent FabricLive mix released last month and, despite rubbing shoulders with absolute classics by Richard D James and Dillinja, they were the highlights. 'Replicant' stood out there, located as it was around the mix’s zenith, and it does now. Minor Science’s remix of the title track adds depth and fucks with percussion in a way similar to what makes Dillinja’s early productions so special, so there’s plenty to get excited about.
GORGON SOUND – PENG SOUND 001
(PENG SOUND, 2012)
'FIND JAH WAY'
I love Peng Sound – The Bristol party and label run by Ossia and Ishan Sound have been upholding the city’s longstanding tradition of dub goodness for a number of years now. Kahn & Neek’s Gorgon Sound alias was responsible for the first piece of Peng Sound on wax – the mighty 'Find Jah Way'. An immense slab of bass and a guaranteed wheel-up on any day.