The new Dissensus forum is already paying dividends by clarifying the meaning of the term 'Bashment', who's Dancehall origins have been appropriated by the Grime scene. So now I can say with some measure of confidence that the more MC-orientated Grime emanating from the East London crews (which I examined in Part 1) can also be referred to as Bashment. Though where that leaves the instrumental tracks by Wiley is puzzling. Are they simply designed to be ready-made backgrounds for freestyle MC battles? I think he said something once to the effect the riffs are arranged in such a way that they emulate the flow of an MC...
Today I'm looking at the scene previously referred to as 'Rephlex Grime', but which is also known as 'Forward' (FWD) or possibly the 'Rinse FM' sound or even the 'Croydon' sound. These titles, which are derived from a rave, a radio station and a place, help to explain how this particular school of Grime came to be. I was aware of Croydon's importance as the home of Plasticman, but was still confused over how this particular strain had coalesced into being. At first I thought it was a fabrication, a pseudo-scene concocted by the boys at Rephlex in a bid to create a buzz for their latest signings. But in fact it seems to have developed naturally through the traditional routes over time. It's amazing - I only live a couple of hours drive away yet always feel that the whole London scene is some impossibly exotic, unfathomable, cross-cultural babble of ideas that usually only reaches me when it's hit the major-label-five-album-deal-deluxe-CD-packaging stage. It's only now, via the constant flow of blog-reportage, that I'm able to even comprehend the vague outlines (battlelines?) of a scene that's still going through it's growing pains. Why don't I just follow the scene in my own neck of the woods? Well, with few notable exceptions (Mark Stewart, Tricky) I've never been interested in the Bristol scene. I find it too stiflingly cool and sophisticated. It's no surprise that the biggest acts end up being coffee-table favourites around the world. Yawnsville. Shitmat could never have come from Bristol. But I digress...
So, to recap, earlier this year Rephlex Records released a compilation called "Grime", which confused the hell out of me, having only recently deduced that Grime was this thing that Roll Deep was doing. Certain key elements were in place; the hollow square wave bass, the mutated UKG beats, the sparse arrangements. But it was darker, with less melodic flair, no MC's, but an added sheen of production that fit more into my Warp/Rephlex mentality. Maybe hints of the more paranoid strand of mid-90's Drum 'n' Bass like Photek's "Hidden Camera" EP. Perhaps, via the use of ethnic and authoratarian samples, a tenuous link to my beloved Cabaret Voltaire? Although I certainly enjoy 'Bashment' Grime, this 'FWD' Grime sound was more immediately recognisable as my sort of thing. Even without the anticipatory excitement generated by K-Punk's review, I immediately loved it (and you might like to read the frantic comments box activity that accompanied that post for more insights). I won't go into the biographies of the three artists featured, as you can get all that from Rephlex.
This is from an EP on Soulja which came out at the end of last year. The opening cut, "Dub Weapon" would subsequently feature on the Grime compilation. I felt an immediate attraction to Slaughter Mob's sound - razor sharp beats with a dubby swarm of paranoid/paniky dialogue samples and a claustrophobic Dread atmosphere. There's an organic fluidity to their sound, a certain 'swing' factor to the rhythms that really clicks with me. The eastern-tinged sample that opens this track sounds very similar to one used by Mu-Ziq many moons ago...
This one is from the Grime compilation. I particularly like it because I'm convinced he's sampled and messed with the beat from Cabaret Voltaire's "Trust In The Lord" (and if anyone would like to compare, I'll happily post up the original for comparison purposes). Plus it's got such a relentless bassline - really nasty and stiff.
From his brand new debut album proper on Planet Mu. I was sort of aware it was coming, but then I read Kid Shirt's review and immediately headed to Bleep and downloaded the fucker quick as a flash. The potential of those four tracks on the Grime comp are totally fulfilled on "One Way". Interestingly, there are several MC collaborations of which this one, featuring Goldfinger, is currently on heavy rotation at Gutterbreakz HQ. So the line between FWD/Bashment is starting to evaporate?
"Grime 2" is imminent from Rephlex, featuring three more artists, including Kode 9. Info and biographies here. Judging by the generous clips available at the Kode 9 blog, this is going to be another fascinating chapter in the ongoing saga. For now though, here's the amazing beatless A-side of his Hyperdub 10", which forges ahead into whole new territories. Maybe I'm being a bit naughty posting it here, but fuck it - this feels too important to miss.
Grime available at Amazon and Warpmart (vinyl only)
Grime 2 available to pre-order at Amazon
Mark One's One Way available at Amazon, Warpmart and for download at Bleep
Kode 9's 10" is available at Warpmart