FORSAKEN - BOAT NOODLES (Punch Drunk 12")
Another installment of Punch Drunk's ongoing exploration of the Bristol underground, this time focusing on Forsaken, aka Pete 'Bubonic' Thomas. Although the title is inspired by a trip to Thailand, the main focus of 'Boat Noodles' is a chiming acoustic guitar sample of Vietnamese origin, combined with tablas and snatches of ethnic ambiance, resulting in an unusual hybrid of world sounds. The samples are heavily edited, reversed and filtered to create a sense of constant flux, held together by glutinous, undulating sub bass and a galloping rhythm track. On the flip, Pete reworks Peverelist's "Erstwhile Rhythm", processing the original's piano motif through a modulated filter effect, tweaking the beats, adding choppy breaks and mellow pad chords. The resulting groove is more like a heavily swung House track - highly infectious and one of the prettiest makeovers I've heard in a long while.
HEADHUNTER - INITIATE EP (Tempa 2x12")
Bristol's Headhunter gets the doublepack treatment for his second solo flight on Tempa. Anyone who's heard his recent dj mixes will have noticed a minimal/dub techno element creeping into his sets, and the influence is made explicit here on tracks like "Locus Lotus" and "Quanta", with their steady 4/4 heartbeat, trancey riffs and soft-focus chord stabs, but souped-up for the 140bpm crowd with added bass weight, staggered percussion and an ear for a good key-change. Elsewhere, "Sushi Brain" and "Spyro" return to the immaculately crafted halfstep sound that first brought Headhunter to our attention, the latter a particularly magnificent arrangement of spine-chilling synth sweeps and pensive chords that tint the euphoria of the pitched-up diva sample with a streak of anxiety. "Drop The Waste" lowers the temperature further, with a relentless wobble bass throb that takes Coki's austere rhythmic template into harder, more clinical territory. Overall this is a solid five-track showcase that by turns enforces the status quo whilst pointing to future genre-splicing possibilities. Cautiously innovative .
NYABINGI - BIONICLE/SHAMANU (Hotflush Two 12")
First release from new Hotflush side-label, featuring Slaughter Mob's MC Vicious on another solo mission. "Bionicle" is an alarming barrage of robotic voices, sibilant metallic riffs and oscillator ripples underpinned by a tremulous bassline and brash, almost rocky drums. "Shamanu", meaning 'Japanese Wolf', does exactly what it says on the tin with it's Koto-like plucked string melody and howling wolf samples, but also adds oldskool vinyl scratch effects and a subbier bass sound, rounding off a distinctive yet slightly unhinged release.
(first published in Woofah #2)