Journo/sub-scientist Martin Clark uncorks his test-tubes
With dubstep truly global now, it would be easy to overlook where it all came from 11 years ago. Funny thing is, the five or so original pioneers of the sound have recently put out killer tracks. El-B dropped ‘I Feel’, Zed Bias has been prolific with his Maddslinky albums and Horsepower returned from nowhere with ‘Quest For The Sonic Bounty’. Now, we have Darqwan – aka Oris Jay – killing it with ‘Flow So Hot’. Party like it’s 1999!
Across the pond, we have HGLDT. OK, so the Montreal man doesn’t have the snappiest name (it’s his initials) but ‘Knowing You’ is the kind of euphoric, sweet-but-sour post-dubstep that, if you close your eyes, puts you in the middle of a big room with Joy Orbison caressing the decks; your arms finally wrapped around that girl. Yes, that girl.
I’m a little biased about Damu, but I’m by no means the only one getting hyped about this very exciting new talent. Whether he turns his hand to warm UK funky, synthy 8-bit grime or droney witch house, it explodes with infectious melodies and Day-Glo euphoria that are impossible to resist. ‘Sequinny’ begins with a seductress lamenting, “I can’t believe a year has passed/Seems like yesterday was that day”, before Damu showers her with love and turns back the hands of time.
The relationship between MCs and UK funky is a tetchy one at present but there’s nothing better than a ruff MC over a smooth UK funky beat. On ‘Gone Away’, grime godfather and bashment-flavoured funky MC Maxwell D shows his emotional side. How emotional? Jamie xx’s been playing it. Nuff said.
Finally, if you think grime’s dead, then you probably are too. While the grime-lite elders are now storming the charts, the underground is regenerating, spewing out new beats – like Darq E Freaker’s banger ‘Cherryade’. The ruff verse stabs recall Tempa T’s classic ‘Next Hype’, while the choruses sound like the mutant child of Dr Dre’s G-funk.
Martin’s top 5
1. Maxwell D - ‘Gone Away’
2. Damu - ‘Sequinny’
3. HGLDT - ‘Knowing You’
4. Darq E Freaker - ‘Cherryade’
5. Darqwan feat. MC Shinobi - ‘Flow So Hot’
This article originally appeared in the January 22 issue of NME
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