Low End Lowlife: 13.06.12

The Low End Lowlife returns to celebrate Voodoo pooches, Nectar Points and any other shit he can justify a day off for.

Posted on Jun 13th, 2012 in Features and Interviews / By Matthew Bayfield
Low End Lowlife: 13.06.12 Well that’s another failed attempt at keeping my column on time and on track. Alas another fortnight has slipped by without me managing to even vaguely assemble any news whatsoever from the world of bass music. But, like a true British born waster, armed with a heft of whiskey yet fleet of pocket, I was celebrating a rather royal occasion beloved by dropouts aplenty and frowned upon by taxpayers many: my twenty fourth birthday. I don’t remember much of it, but at least I’ll never forget it.

Oh and big up to Elizabeth Windsor, who turned sixty… or collected sixty Nectar points or something the week before and saved me having to go into work. I love you, your dogs and gin… When I say “your dogs” I mean Prince Phillip and the Beefeaters. Not those horrible little mutts that look a bit like foxes who have been unfortunate enough to get caught up in some vicious voodoo shrunken head business.

Regardless, here’s a selection of royal platters to set off any party.

Chestplate are first in this week having just dropped two new tracks from Cyrus, one of dubstep’s most original and arguably overlooked players. His new ‘Nostalgia / Rupture’ twelve is everything you’d expect from both the two institutions of label and producer involved. ‘Nostalgia’ is a slice of sheer, minimalistic mastery. Minimal in terms of component parts, the track sets out on a Spartan rhythmic arrangement and digitised female vocal clipping, before opening out with a huge yet gentle sub swell, giving it a truly strange, serene sense of weight and subtly that most of the current crop of noisy mid-range chart botherers would have neither the inspiration nor patience to attempt. Rupture on the flip is another big, spacious arrangement, but takes things on a slightly more tension-laced ride the sort of which Cyrus has been a master of for some time and as a pair the tracks show off not only the nuanced detailing prevalent in much of the man’s work, but also the range within the more traditional framework of dubstep, that many thought long dead. If you look at a large proportion of the documentation of dubstep in the press it seems Cyrus is a man regularly overlooked as a key contributor on the scene. This new 12” only makes the constant oversight all the more frustrating. Go buy it. Tell a friend… Hell, tell a stranger.

Keeping things on a suitably traditionalist, atmosphere drenched focus comes the new release from effortlessly productive New Zealand exports Truth, who have finally dropped a little something on some little label called Tempa. Their new ‘Dreams / Last Time’ 12 sees the duo move deeper into the recesses of space and tension, particularly on A-side ‘Dreams’, which surges through on a near constant swell of sub bass, peppered with chamber like percussive shuffles and the ethereally haunting vocal of Yayne. Truth have always excelled at highly cinematic cuts, go have another little listen to ‘Dead Silence’ (or nearly any other cut) off their Puppets LP if you seem to have missed it, but this is possibly their most evocative composition to date and is ideal for lurking in carparks, under railway bridges or anywhere else women shouldn’t travel alone. Over on t’other side of the wax things aren’t looking much better for paranoid late night ramblers as ‘Last Time’ takes more sub rich tension, entwining it in big, sweeping synth hits, aggressive little bass snarls, some sparse cowbell knocks and a distinctly eastern style to distill more of that Truth flavoured silver screen sonic stalker style.

Another number that came out recently (as I said before, chronology has gone out the window due to numerous gins and bank holidays, so it may actually have been a decade ago, or it could be next week) is the new Club Rez EP by Night Slugs trump card Girl Unit. Not to do things by half, the EP is a jubilant six tracks spread over two classy white vinyl, and from start to finish is another textbook (and by that I mean nearly unclassifiable) Night Slugs release. Grand opener ‘Ensemble (Club Mix)’ lays out the characteristic GU wares early with its metronomic hi-hat ticks and thoroughly rubberised bass chimes before opening right out into a blissful, washing synth hit perfect for lying about Croatian beaches in early September. This laid back vibe is then suitably battered by the arrival of ‘Cake Boss’, a broken clatter of a rhythm powered on metallic percussion and a swiping set of what could almost pass for rotary blades. If you got a bit too comfortable on the opener this is the perfect refrain to help your hips shit themselves. ‘Plaza’ is potentially the most outright eighties take of the set, with synths that would have sat right at home on any club ready New Order cut or Scuba’s suitably left-turn Personality record from earlier this year. Meanwhile ‘Double Take’ is sheer joy in an aurally consumable format, all aquatic percussive ticks and giant tub thumping subs which should help you release the Kraken on any of your chosen dance floors. Slowing the pace back down some in the final stretches ‘Rezday’ is a much woosier, more atmospheric synth workout rich on sonic intricacies, before EP closer and title track ‘Club Rez’ swoops in with a stark raving neon set of synths, all packed in nicely around some rich, leviathan sub thumps. Don’t waste time trying to hear this on your crummy laptop, get out the house and go find someone spinning it live. Which should be everyone. Unless you are Chris Moyles… In which case you shouldn’t be working.

Deep Medi are also joining the party this week with a stylistic shift in the form of Silkie associate Swindle’s Do The Jazz EP. The title cut ‘s opening is rich in cheeky little handclaps, swirling Hammond organ, guitar licks of a suitably jazzy nature and some wonderfully incorporated “doob-doob” vocals clippings, until about the minute and a half point, wherein the track drops into stomping sub hits, loose snare smacks and a solid bass of Grime time synth work. It’s a genius shift from the musical red herring of an intro, through the central swagger fuelled arrangement to the final payoff, where all these pieces are laced together on some more jazz rich piano sounds and what might even be called a guitar solo. Truly quite something. ‘If I Were A Superhero’ takes things off in a slightly groovier, funk laden direction, with some soulful vocal clips, big, treated rubbery bass shudders and the overall feeling that Roger Troutman and Bernie Worrell may somehow have been involved in Swindle’s musical education somewhere along the line. Closer ‘Under The Sun’ is probably the most aggressive cut from the wax, taking in more of those big loose snare knocks, some purple styled synth and the odd mechanical whirs and disco whistles, to leave a track that sounds like it could quite easily have fallen off a Kapsize press. Mala has undeniably been pushing the Deep Medi sound further afield into the fringes of bass this past six or so months, and this is another fine step in a strange direction for one of the scenes most consistent labels.

That’ll be all for this week sadly. As much as there is plenty more to mention, including some new bits from Joker and Newham Generals on Joker’s own Kapsize label (if you feel the Swindle that’s a definite tip), a cinematic gem in the form of ‘The Raven’ by Kryptic Minds backed by a bad (and by bad I mean really good in that down with the kids, grammatically and contextually incoherent manner) little remix courtesy of Biome on Osiris Music and a slice of solid gold, classic seventies styled funk instrumentation on the new Impellers record This Is Not A Drill on Mocambo Records. I know it’s straight funk, but A: It’s where bass truly started for me and, B: It’s my column. Anyway I can’t stay, as I’ve got to try and soak the Bombay Sapphire and some voodoo Corgi shit off my suede Wallabees. Chin chin all.

As ever, the Low End Lowlife is drunk and dribbling nonsense on Twitter @Lowendlowlife. Come say hello, and regularly be told what to think in return! …Chris Moyles need not apply.