Low End Lowlife: 19.04.12

It's the one and only Matthew Bayfield.

Posted on Apr 19th, 2012 in Features and Interviews / By Matthew Bayfield
Low End Lowlife: 19.04.12 Right no time for idle chitchat about how much Alexandra Burke's inane grin scares me, I'm about three months behind on this column largely due to poor life decisions when smashed on gin... Not to mentioned poor life decisions when soddingly sober and it's only fair the people that work (substantially) harder making these tunes than I do listening to them get their gold stars and a can of still Vimto (it's not that you don't deserve a fizzy pop but times are hard I'm afraid) so let's make like some clever metaphor and roll.

This week’s must have comes from Mala's relentlessly efficient Deep Medi Medi Musik imprint, in the form of Sheffield producer and fairly recent signing Commodo's Northern Soul EP. Opening with the title track, 'Northern Soul' rolls in on a tight, tribal percussive tip which opens out into an ominous sub rumble and a dank, brooding industrial atmosphere which in some respects connects a few of the dots between Commodo's modern electronic productions and the less aggressive, more atmospheric experiments of such Sheffield electronica pioneers as Cabaret Voltaire. Factor in the eerie synth keys that sound like something of a 1970's safety awareness video and you have got one of the most immersive tracks to be dropped on Deep Medi this year, and considering the year they have currently had, that is a statement not to be taken lightly. Maintaining the atmosphere of dread-infused murk created on side A comes 'Surveillance' on the flip. If you caught the excellent Dubstep Allstars Vol. 8 mixed by Distance at the end of last summer you'll recognise this one from its opening few tracks, and, even though it's some eight months down the line 'Surveillance' has lost none of it's potency. Utilising a much more urgent percussive shuffle than the previous number, built on top of a tough, grinding bass line the piece again uses some old school synth styles to create a claustrophobic stalker of a track, replete with sampled snippets of police surveillance tapes to really drive home the feeling that you are probably being followed every time you pop on your headphones. On plate two 'Jaded' comes with a slightly more spacey sound and a continually bubbling sub line peppered with sharp, almost aquatic synth hits. Rounding up the package is the slightly more laidback sounds of 'So Clear' skulking in on rolling percussion, and a deep rubbery bass, all textured up in a non intrusive manner with loungey little key flourishes and the odd conga roll to complete a completely immersive dubstep work of the truest kind. It was clear from Commodo's 'Saracen / Uprising' debut on Medi that he was going to be worth keeping an eye on, but Northern Soul is a massive leap forwards in terms of detail and sonic texture. Between himself and other young producers such as Manchester's Compa it would appear the North of England is looking like the place to head if you prefer your sounds on a more old school flex.

Another man making a most welcome return to the Bearded chin this week is Rinse FM stalwart Plastician (pictured) via his very own Terrorhythm Recordings, with the frankly wonderfully titled, can't believe someone didn't think of it sooner Straight Outta Croydon EP. 'Hardkore' comes bouncing through on some big fat tub thumping bass hits, replete with clipped vocals and loose percussion to bring some of that proper stripped back energy familiar to anyone with a half decent grime record in their collection. Meanwhile 'Plasbar' takes some of those synths you might have heard if you played video games in the early nineties and grafts them onto another dense bounce of a bass line and stuttered percussive taps to create another slice of pure adrenaline. It's a great credit to Plastician that he can generate the energy and vibrancy on show here without ever needing to overcrowd a production, besides, the man has been on the frontlines putting ridiculously hard work in on this sort of thing since way back so put bluntly, for the cost of less than a can of Red Bull you probably won't find a better buzz this week... And it won't give you diabetes as quickly. Two birds. One stone. Go purchase.

Funkineven is also back on his unique strut this week with the two course combo of 'Chips / Sweets' via his very own Apron Records. If you listened last summer when I told you to go buy his 'Roland's Jam' 12" well done you, as you might just have been in the loop to cop one of these before the eBay vultures swooped in to spoil proceedings. Ridiculously limited to 250 pieces, each in a pink candy striped paper bag on marbled vinyl it looks most delectable indeed. Alas it would all be for nought if the tunes within were absolute ballhang. Luckily for our budding little 'lobes these are two of the finest 'Funk has ever let out, both having been dispatched to regularly joyful effect for a fair old time now. A side 'Chips' comes peacocking through with a cheeky, sample flipping, looped up disco style that would have had our dear departed Jimmy Saville sweating out his tracksuit bottoms had he been given the chance to hear it, whilst on the B-Side 'Sweets' takes things from 0 to seventies in about five revolutions with a fat, funk bass jam loaded with high pitched vocals, twangy synths and the general conviction that flares are the only serious choice for the stylish man on a night on the town (a sentiment I've been pushing since dear Mrs B let me listen to her BeeGees records In Utero) If it isn't already too late to pick up one of these limited beauties you'd best get to stepping, and if it is too late, you should blame no one but yourself for ignoring one of the best producers currently funking all over the scene.

Rounding up this slightly fuller, less competently spellchecked, still a couple of days late article comes some of that magical squelchy stuff that we could all waste time verbally masturbating over trying to give a clever genre tag like "purple sound" or "squelchstep" to instead of just saying how wonderful it is. I Felt Fuzzy EP by Kelpe is now available on Svetlana Industries and as previously stated it is wonderful. If you are unfamiliar with Kelpe's work then you have been missing a particularly psychedelic treat for nigh on a decade, and it is (sky) high time you got acquainted. Title track 'I Felt Fuzzy' is a blissful, laidback jam, buzzing with warm, syrup thick synth keys and some soft focus, almost hymnal vocal samples in the back to leave you with a spaced out beachy sort of vibe, prefect for the day it decides to finally stop raining. 'Cola Mine' is a slightly more rhythmic affair, still fat with the synth keys, but rolling on a slightly heavier percussion pattern and some shimmering, aquatic pops and whistles whilst 'Frosty Kiss' pushes the whole thing right out into the stratosphere with some bit crushed keys, big processed drums and the overall feeling of the credit sequences to one of those horribly translated Japanese import SNES cartridges you could buy at car boot sales when you were younger. As well as all this spaced out majesty you also get a BNJMN remix of 'Cola Mine' which softens up the original some, laying on even more wonky synth work and two 'I Felt Fuzzy' remixes, by Cupp Cave & Naive Machine respectively that both stick to the thick, skwee styles but play more with the space around the piece rather than chop and rearrange it too much. If you have ever caught some Donkey Pitch or Harmonia releases and would like to hear a bit of what probably influenced both those labels then now is the chance you probably owe yourself!

Anyway that's all that for this week. Next week I might be back. I might not though. Not in some "man of mystery" bullshit sense (christ I'm barely a child, forget man) just in the sense that I'm poorly organised and rarely remember to prepare in advance.

You can also catch me mouthing off in a state of disarray via Twitter @Lowendlowlife

See you whenever really.