MVE picks some of his favorite new releases along with a mix
If you’ve ever felt helpless about keeping up with electronic music releases and don’t know where to start, I’m here to help ease the burden by providing brief reviews of some of the latest releases that I am enjoying. Hopefully the reviews will just be a starting point and can guide those listeners/readers who want to explore more deeply in useful directions.
J:Kenzo – Bloodlines EP (Rinse) Last year saw halfstep giant J:Kenzo finally release his first album on Rinse Records. Fans of the deeper, darker dubstep sounds have known about him for a while, but that record really put J:Kenzo’s name on the map. This year, he’s followed his self-titled album up with the Bloodlines EP, keeping with his tradition of the ‘dungeon’ sound (a moniker which is problematic for some fans of the genre). The bass is heavy, the instrumentation is sparse, and the wobbles are non-existent. ‘Cause and Effect’ is a particular favorite of this release and includes the classic dubstep staple of esoteric movie dialogue samples to punctuate the track. This is a quality record for fans of Youngsta’s Rinse FM show, Chestplate Records, Tempa Records, and the like.
Hackman – Fists of Ham (2084) Hackman has been an artist that has kicked around several different electronic genres. He’s (arguably) had releases that have touched on dubstep, house, and UK Funky, showcasing his talents as a producer. Fists of Ham (an admittedly silly name) is perfect for summertime vibes with the A-Side eponymous track evoking the drums and light synths of UK Garage and the tempo of speed garage while the B-Side is a Felix Lenferink remix that drags the track into further brokenbeat territory. I prefer the original track, but I am an unrepentant UK Garage fan.
Kromestar – 7th Wonder EP (Nebula Music) I would generally classify Kromestar as a classic dubstep producer in the vein of Mala, Coki, Benga, Skream, and others. However, with 7th Wonder, Kromestar has harkened back to 2008-2009 and Joker, Ginz, and Kapsize Records’ purple sound. If that all sounds like gibberish to you, then check out Joker’s best track Purple City (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0bIR_YmiuVw). Kromestar very clearly evokes this sound, which is a change of pace from previous releases, and the first track on the EP is appropriately called ‘Purple Cloud.’ For me, though, ‘Atari Wave’ is the standout track on this release, as it brings more energy than the laconic first track.
Walton – Beyond (Hyperdub) While Hyperdub, for me, has been putting out some questionable releases lately (Terror Danjah’s album excepted), they’ve released a really solid LP with Beyond. Walton is a relatively new artist and has had some quality releases in the past (most notably his All Night 12”) and has shown great versatility. Beyond is no exception as he floats between House, Grime, Electro, Wonky, and straight Bass relatively effortlessly. Granted, not every track works, but for the most part, the tracks hit the right notes. I might have preferred if the album had been broken up into a couple EPs to more effectively group similar tracks into self-contained releases, but I am an opponent of albums for electronic artists in general, so take that criticism with a grain of salt.
Also, every month I’ll be including a mix to give you a sense of what we’re playing on the Rinse Out. This month’s is mostly modern house with some classics thrown in, as well as a couple The-Dream tracks to switch things. A head’s up: there is some explicit language in the mix.
PS: Don’t forget to check out Rinse 23: Mixed By Richy Ahmed and the new Ciara, TGT, and K. Michelle albums.
Written by Mike Van Esler. Tune into the Rinse Out every Thursday from 10-midnight on 90.7fm KJHK.