"Ultimate Breakbeats and shit right? Niggaz still, makin money offa those shits. Loopin the same shits for a thousand years and shit right?" - The RZA as Bobby Digital - B.O.B.B.Y
And with that in mind, sporadic record review time.
Blackmass Plastics - The Spinal Conflict - Black Lantern (out now)
Morphamish's Urge Mode, the third leg of BLM finally kicks off, with a split EP between Blackmass Plastics and his slightly more techy alter ego Crooked One. So for one swift download, you get one remix by each, of the other, and an original tune. Squelch Gate's proving favourite so far - a speedy, but none-too-mental 4/4 banger, offset by dubby percussion and LFO basslines. Hearing a flagged-up "here it comes" in a breakdown should be stupid, but proves awesome, and the crispness of the production indicates how killer it'll sound in a club. The low-end nastiness of Uranium Blues and the shuffling rave-isms of Tek Tek (Crooked One remix) are both well executed too, giving the EP a diverse pallette of the whole bass music spectrum. It's fucking brilliant to see a name like Blackmass, who's put out a wealth of vinyls on the likes of Rag and Bone, acknowledging the power of netlabellism and the CC mindset. We need more like this online.
Gremino - It's Working - Rag and Bone (10 May)
Right. About a month back, I found an old CD called "James Browns' Funky People" - a compilation of those ubiquitous breakbeats that show up in hip-hop, D'n'B, Rave and every genre under the sun. We figured it might be fun to kickstart the old rave phenomenon and add in some 808 kicks, nippy synths and rip off James Brown. Whilst Gremino's new EP is very much in line with Rag and Bone's previous blends of rave / tech / step, he's totally beaten us to the punch, with the title track basically an evolving looped breakbeat that adds to and augments each breakdown. Great for those times when you just need to up the intensity in a mix, but a little staid on it's own. Hyper's one of those tunes everyone will be trying to make in a years time; a forward-thinking juggernaut rumbling with the caged spirit of rave. It's as big and nasty as you'd expect from R&B, but with a mournfully reverbed vocal, and jittery synths that make for a more 6am feel. Problem sounds like very little else I've heard in a while - sculpting echos of rave staples, before splicing in a crazed breakbeat and setting it lose. A bold and unusual record from a producer with all the right creds. Keep an eye on this one.
Rusko - O.M.G - Mad Decent
I'm not going to give this the longest review, simply because it'll receive more press attention than Lindsay Lohan's knickers, but I've given a copy of this a blast, and I feel it worth noting that Rusko's not just the one trick pony capable of chocking out yet another Cockney Thug, Jahova, Hammertime or Pro Nails remix (all of which were pretty sweet). Admittedly, opener Woo Boost is the same overly-polished wubstep he's made his speciality, with sirens, rising synths and occaissonal "woo!"s making this a student-friendly skank-along, while Rub-a-dub Shakedown is cheery popstep that doesn't really go anywhere. However, Kumon Kumon is probably Rusko's best application of his talents to date - a hoover-bass, breakbeat-driven rave monster from when pills were still awesome. Rusko does dumb so well, and on this one, he surpasses even himself. You're on My Mind and I Love You are wub-spliced pop, and if nothing else, I'm glad to see the Andrew WK of bass music doing something different. Worth noting.
Captain Ahab - The End of Irony - deathbombarc.com
Captain Ahab are one of those undescribably brilliant bands who completely defy genre or categorisation - part noisecore, part electro, part spoken-word / hip-hop with a total pop sheen. Abrasive and surreal shit. Acting Hard begins with a looped vocal "backslap you for acting hard", whilst an emo-inflected gregorian choir rumbles into life; as the incessant loops build up, a frenetic synth joins in, and the whole thing explodes into spastic scream-fest. Death to False to Techno blasts in like Gay Against You covering Deathklok - ludicrous, camp noise-making that switches it's focus every 20 seconds, sequeing between hardstyle, breakbeat, minimal, and gangchant vocals. Without being so crass as to say the whole record sounds like this, you'll have made up your mind after these two tracks whether or not you want to hear more.
The closest reference point for The End of Irony would New York's No Wave scene, or possibly modern queercore like Kids on TV; both inhabit that curious Venn diagram where experimentalism and intellectual concepts collide with vicious anarchy and pure atavistic indulgence. Like both of the above, Captain Ahab also write with a great feel for slick pop music. It's still hard listening, and were it not for the slick execution, would be disregarded as nothing but masturbatory drug-fuckery; as it is, The End of Irony is challenging and occasionally frustrating genius.