Tag Archive: Electronic


Dubstep lives!

Recently there has been a fair bit of noise about the demise of Dubstep. For the most part you’d be hard pressed to find a stalwart fan that isn’t despairing of the apparent decline of what, until quite recently, was still considered to be a fledgling genre. Whilst its myriad offshoots  may be going from strength to strength, it already seems as though the core of the genre itself has become lazy and idiosyncratic, apparently falling foul of the entropy that infected Drum and Bass in the latter half of the noughties. However all is not lost, there is hope on the horizon and the torchbearers thoroughly know their shit.

LHF – EP2: The Line Path

Anyone familiar with the previous Grendelcakes will already be well aware of my near pathological obsession with LHF. Their masterful blend of all things UK bass related is outrageous; seamlessly weaving infectious drum pattens around a tangled mass of foreign yet familiar samples and devastating bass. Every track is so perfectly realised and clinically executed that its almost criminal, seeming as though each of them went from concept to finished product in one swift and seamless movement so as to cut down on any dilution of the sound. The Line Path continues where the  Enter the Keepers of the Light left off, transmitting four pirate signals that sound as though they should somehow be forbidden from human consumption. It must be difficult choosing which tracks to release considering their vast archive of unreleased music, but these four cuts provide an excellent cross section of the wealth of material displayed in their various mixes and radio shows (see this FACT mix for a fitting example).

Chamber of Light is rolling and epic, carrying an endlessly pulsing conga line alongside unsettling bass womps and dread jungle breakdowns.  Bass 2 Dark breathes new life into a much loved sample, sounding like proto-garage rave being hijacked by a tribal drum circle, endlessly shuffling drum patterns imbued with enough percussive swing to warp your sense of gravity. Candy Rain starts off in an overwhelming burst of coarsely defined colour, jarring the senses before slipping seamlessly into a punch drunk head nodder complete with Mount Kimbie-esque ephemera. Trifle closes out the E.P in a whirl of samples,  perfectly edited beats and a growling synthline so tightly wound that it could induce panic attacks in anxiety sufferers. All said however these tunes still don’t seem to represent the extent of what their talent has to offer, and with the impending release of their album on Keysound later this year it probably safe to say that LHF will be turning heads and defying expectations for some time to come.

Old Apparatus – Old Apparatus

Providing an suitably fitting counterpart to LHF’s enigmatic bass mastery, recent Deep Medi signings Old Apparatus served up this slice of genius a couple of months back. Comprising of two extended sides, each featuring what roughly equates to two  complete tracks interspersed with chasmic intermissions of unidentified noise and distortion, their début record provides an incredibly ambitious and vastly intelligent expansion upon Dubstep c.2011. Its easier to look at the tracks as a series of movements than individually defined entities,  blinkered moments of lucid insight filtering in through an oppressive claustrophobic morass of static and ambient noise. Its a perfect demonstration of how to make formula defying, mould breaking music; exactly the sort of direction that an overstuffed scene needs in order to re-establish itself as a credible source of creativity. Its by no means a radio friendly sound, clocking in closer to dark techno and hypnagogic drone  than to the music of their peers, but it goes a long way towards resurrecting deeply mysterious, future leaning focus that early Drum and Bass and Dubstep once adhered to.

Not satisfied with simply unleashing their dread laced music upon us, the shadowy producers have packaged the whole release in so much mystique and ambiguity that without saying a single thing about the record, they have created an alien and wholly unsettling narrative world to be further explored over the course of following releases. If you need convincing check their website, where ancient images of machine headed people and illegible documents  provide no insight, just more questions. Also whilst you’re there download the promo mix which contains sections of this release alongside a whole slew of unspeakably good unreleased material. I probably wouldn’t be alone in saying that this dark, unnerving appeal was one of the major influences upon my infatuation with bass music in the first place and its comforting to know that whatever derivative nonsense the larger scene churns out, there will always be  devoted few keeping things unsettling and  sinister. Whilst everything on display here is utterly captivating, the pick of the bunch has to be the first part of Side B which sounds like digital whales chanting an oscillating mantra over scuffed, Aphex-sharp woodblock  beats. Ridiculous.

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Reset

After a confusing morning of downloading unnecessary programs and being baffled by terms such as SQLserver and webmatrix , Grendelcakes has now successfully moved to WordPress, an exciting development as I’m sure you’ll agree. Anyway, its been a while so to get the ball rolling here’s a bunch of words about a couple of things.

Downliners Sekt – Meet The Decline

Finishing off the run of three peerless E.P’s, Meet the Decline takes on an altogether more reflective and restrained approach than its predecessors. The opener All I Can Hear Now ties a  hymnal wash to delicate guitar flourishes and light, almost breathy percussion. Although considerably more subtle and understated than anything they’ve released before it maintains their unearthly sound with carefully placed snatches of the ghostly refrains and technoid machinations that have come to signify their music marque. Despite its contrary direction its the sort of music that could only have been made by them, a delicate statement of intent that opens up an entirely new galaxy of possibilities and defies all expectations.

Rising Saudade is  deeply ingrained with their future gazing ephemera and decidedly more recognisable, but it begins with more of an introspective take on things, as though caught in a lucid dream about their path through the music scene thus far, before launching into a stuttering charge and crashing through layers of sound that shatter around it before fading into its wake. Locked Faces seems to be an expansion on the muttered and distorted phrases that littered their earlier work, giving the lead to a distant voice that carries a pervasive air of discord as it winds its way around a skeletal framework of clicks, glitches and clipped beats. Hockey Nights in Canada closes out proceedings in breathtaking form, sounding like Mount Kimbie’s Maybes being reinterpreted by Mogwai and Godspeed You Black Emperor. Dense layers of sound, lightly brushed, loose sprung snares and Ice Hockey commentary that seems to echo in from another dimension, all combining to form a devastatingly resonant cry that sounds like the sort of music you might have once heard on the periphery of a dream.

Seekae – +Dome

I’d never even heard of Seekae before catching them supporting Mount Kimbie at a White Rhino gig earlier this year, but it immediately became apparent that they were a little bit special. The set ran from crisp trickling beats in the mould of Mount Kimbie and James Blake, to yawning chasms of crackling dissonance more reminiscent of 65 Days of Static. The album +Dome stands as a fair counterpart but here the song structures and themes are far more gentle  and introspective. For the most part it unravels beautifully, avoiding dancefloor impact for jaw dropping loveliness and turning inwards onto itself to create intricate colourful patterns.

What is possibly the most impressive thing (among a whole raft of other impressive things) is the way in which the songs develop, often starting out with a jarring or staggered build that seems to be heading nowhere before suddenly unwinding into something jaw dropping and awesome. A perfect example of this being Mingus, which spends half of its duration building somewhat ambiguously until the long awaited crescendo suddenly transitions into  an immaculate rhythm of clicks, claps and vocal stabs before heavenly arpeggiations come in to power the tune to a breathtaking close. Yodal and Reset Head are other particular highlights but for entirely different reasons. The former, comprising the most  dancefloor focused joint on the album, comes from a seemingly Amon Tobin influenced hip hop slant; moving from crackles and digital detritus to chest thumping beats and serrated stabs in a matter of bars. The latter is a perfect exercise in how to unite aspects of the Dubstep fringe with the vast expanses of post rock soundscaping, and as with the aforementioned Downliners Sekt closer, provides an poignant, mournful counterpart to Mount Kimbie’s seminal Maybes.