Low End Lowlife: 20.09.12

Twice in one week?

Posted on Sep 20th, 2012 in Features and Interviews / By Matthew Bayfield
Low End Lowlife: 20.09.12 This, you may have noticed, is the second Low End Lowlife column in one week. A rare run of form by any stretch of my substantially shoddy standards. Is it because you've behaved well and deserve a little pre weekend reward? Probably not, I don't have a fucking clue who reads this. You could be reading this in prison, or in an opium den, or an organic health food shop. Whichever one it may be there's a higher than average chance you're a bad person on some moral level. But who am I to judge? At least you follow decent music. Maybe this second piece is a burst of passionate artistic expression? Not really. I'm just currently unemployed (again) and have watched all the Eastenders on the iPlayer, so I thought I might as well do something else for an hour. On that note, Shane Ritchie, if you're reading this: dial back the performance a bit will you son? You're starting to behave like a paisley clad meth-head whose been told he can have another hit if he does an impression of Mary Poppins era Dick Van Dyke... Try to be a bit more Diagnosis Murder, have a shred of dignity.

Anyway whilst Mr Moon attempts to transform the Queen Vic into a ninety-seater Butlins with his redcoat show boating let's see what should be going in the jukebox of E20's least realistic public house... I'm not even sure it has a jukebox.

Actually bugger the jukebox, this week it's all about the Black Box (and so the tenuous links begin), who, fresh from their absolutely banging siege of the Fort Arena at Outlook Festival, have just released the heavyweight Two Way double EP courtesy of Biome (pictured). Opener 'Reality' is a heavyweight slab of techy bass growls sat atop some dense sub kicks, fully fleshed out by some affecting pad work. The old girl kicks like a mule. There's also some thick atmospherics, a detail Biome seems to be particularly adept with, at work on both 'Charged' and the EP's title track. 'Two Way' rolls on a skittered set of kicks replete with burbling bass and an eerily processed vocal sample. 'Charged' is a more pensive number, with cavernous passages of space between some agitated bass rumbles and a general air of paranoia. If this track was a person on public transport he'd be wearing a high-vis raincoat and smell strongly of Birdseye Fish Coins. 'Two Way' is a damn fine EP all round, with an excellent range of sonic styles on show but the standout for me might just be 'Inner Mind'. Mining similar territory to 'Feeling Good', from Biome's Biscuit Factory release back in 2010. The track surges on warm bass and minor key piano lines as a soulful vocal floats untethered in the background, giving it all a very noirish theatricality. 2012 has been a fine year all round for Black Box and it looks set to continue, as they have just announced their next release to be a collaboration between Sheffield wunderkind Commodo and oft collaborator Lurka (who also released the excellent 'Forgotten Ones' on Black Box sister label Box Clever earlier this year) You can check out a preview of their collaboration 'Glue Sniff Riddim' over on Commodo's Soundcloud now... I've never sniffed glue myself, but if it's as much fun as this track expect to find me writing my next column with a pickled onion Disco's packet stuck firmly to the lower half of my face.

Next this week comes another release from Commodo, this time through his usual home of Deep Medi Muzik. Always a producer with a distinct sound, A-side 'Buckwild' might be Commodo's most unique production yet. Opening with B-movie styled synths and a Mobb Deep sample, the track then rolls out on a shuffling percussive ramble which soon becomes thick with droning synths, heavy bass rumbles and some more of that clanking train yard aesthetic that 'Northern Soul' utilised so well on his EP from earlier this year. To quote the sample from the track it's "some crazy space shit that don't even make no sense." Side two of this release; 'Axis' sees things descend into darker territory, with more of that VHS B-Movie synth vibe and some discordant key stabs over deep sub hits and numerous finely weaved layers of atmosphere. Throughout Commodo's release thus far it's been the hip-hop sensibility of his sampling that gives his pieces a unique swagger and dusty, almost analogue feel and it's stronger here than ever. There should hopefully be an interview with Commodo coming in the next week or so as well, but I'm not going to make any promises as it was conducted a fair while back and I've still not got round to typing up the whole thing yet. Turns out gassing in a pub half cut for nearly three hours is a complete bitch to transcribe when bitterly sober.

Alongside the previous two labels another that is having something of a vintage year is Distance' Chestplate (there's a tenuous Deep Medi / Tunnidge based link here, but you can research that yourselves.) As well as Sleeper's 'Zombies', Cyrus 'Nostalgia', a debut 12" by new signing Razor Rekta to name but a handful comes a new plate from District. 'Painting The Mind' on the A brings some spacious dread styles and groaning, leviathan synths which blend nicely to create a lurching half step of a track that ripples with subtle tribal stylings. T'other side of the wax you'll find 'Modulate', the heavy artillery track of the release which has some snarling sonics kindred to that particularly aggressive 'Reboot / Bazurk' 12" Distance released on Tectonic at the start of the year. If you've got a decent set of speakers somewhere in your home you can have endless fun recreating key scenes from Jurassic Park by playing 'Modulate' near paper cups full of water and pretending the sub kicks are a T-Rex pottering about your garden... Like I said I've not got a great deal to do at the minute, I've got to make my own fun. Alternatively, if you listen to your music on a tinny laptop, you can fuck off and buy some decent speakers and a record deck.

Until next time.

Don't forget you can find Bearded Magazine and myself on Twitter @Beardedmagazine and @Lowendlowlife respectively. It's acceptable for you to use your laptop for this purpose, and also for watching Shane Ritchie's epoch defining cover of 'I'm Your Man'... He sounds even more atrocious on a decent sound system so maybe stick with the laptop.