It is wild to think that a decade has passed since Keysound began to stretch the creative boundaries of 130bpm Bass music. Indebted to the underground dubstep sound, the label’s notorious discography is treasured with releases such as Skream’s ‘Sweetz (2005 Flex)‘, LHF’s ‘Keepers of The Light‘ and Sully’s ‘Escape‘, just to name a few. While speaking to Red Bull Music Academy label-boss Blackdown claimed ‘dark 130’ was ”just a subheading in a blog post”. However, it has since evolved to become a tagline closely associated with the roster. “The Hunger” EP, Blackdown’s brand new release, comes as his fourth installment of the Rollage series. Transcending the boundaries of Jungle and Bass, the track is a culmination that demonstrates how far the London-based label has come since its inception in 2005.
The EP brings four tracks with manifold intensities that are uniformed by a shared tempo. ‘The Cycle’ takes the path of exploring the darker side of 130bpm rollage. Successive to the project’s atmospheric intro, the track is unapologetic in its ferociousness. A dystopian shade created by funerial pads is coloured by the laser-riddled soundbank that is featured spasmodically throughout the runtime. Blackdown’s journalistic background saw him interview Loefah back in 2009, where he highlighted his ardor for ”echoes of jungle’‘ in dubstep-fused tracks. Though the formulaic drum-patterns of the sub-genre may be absent in this instance, its mistified framework serves as an delirious prelude to a Jungle track mix-in. In such, the release is guaranteed to serve as a revered weapon by leading selectors in the scene.
In his recent Resident Advisor Exchange podcast interview, Blawan stated that the post-dubstep releases of the late 00s and early 2010s sound dated if listened to today. A fresh rewind does in many cases explain why a pioneer of the genre like Skream progressively adopted tech-house scene as his home. However, ‘Void 23’ the collaboration between Bristol’s Appleblim & Ramadanman is one of a few surprising exceptions to the rule. Released in 2010 on Will Saul’s and Ninja Tune’s Fink Aus Music label, it’s a collage of house, techno, electro and dub that stands the test of time where many have failed.
The intro gives the listener a hint that this is not your standard track, the first 30 seconds substituting a 4/4 drum beat loop with an extract of an airport background noise. The soundscapes that simmer into the picture are eldritch yet atmospheric. The eerie ambience invoked is reminiscent of Akira Yamaoka’s Silent Hill soundtrack. Slowly but surely the drums affix unto the energy created. Once the aura is brewed, a zesty bassline fizzes under the surface, never taking claim of the protagonists role. The breakdown that dissolves the existing elements into oblivion is crafted in a way that was ahead of its time. The use of indigenous percussion reminds you of an Innervisions release coming from the last few years. Rampa mixed with ÂME and a tint of Marcus Worgull. Yet the ‘drop’ which turns the track on its head dispels such direction. It rumbles with a rolling lick that funnily enough reminds of Benny Bennassi’s ‘Satisfaction’. However, the sound here is unapologetically underground, the second half of the track being a gift sent down by the tech-house gods.