20 January 2006



Earlier this week I made my monthly trip to Rooted Records on the Gloucester Road to stock-up on all the latest releases and, whilst I was in the area, popped round to Sam Atki2's house for a chat. Sam's a busy boy at the moment - he's got a release schedule that would leave more high-profile producers jealous, and seems to be getting regular remix work too, although he still hasn't actually made any money yet. The concept of royalty cheques seems to be a myth these days! As we sat drinking coffee in the kitchen of the tidy old Victorian house he shares with several mates, Sam played me a few up and coming tunes, including DJ Pinch's excellent remix of the title track from Sam's forthcoming "Guilty Pleasures EP". I was quite surprised when I heard that Mr. Pinch had agreed to collaborate on this one, although he'd insisted that his remix not be included on any release that featured the word 'Grim' in the title! But it's good to know that there's a bit of creative discourse going on between Bristol's premier exponents of Dubstep and Grim. Incidentaly, Pinch's star is very much on the ascent too. This week he's been djing in Berlin, like Sam he's getting airplay from Mary Anne Hobbs, and of course his first Planet Mu release is immanent. Exciting times...

I had a brief look around Sam's attic laboratory. Not much to see, frankly. I remember a time when a home studio was an untidy heap of secondhand synths, samplers and outboard gear, connected together by a tangled web of quarter-inch jack and midi leads. Yet Sam's studio is all virtual, tidily packed into his little laptop. Isn't modern technology great? I must admit though, I'm still a hardware boy at heart. Gimme a stack of dusty old analogue synths anyday!

Grim Dubs 5But it's the end product that counts, and Sam's been delivering the goods. The fifth (and, I think, final) installment of Werk's "Grim Dubs" series is Atki2's "Year Of The Cockeral/Untitled", two more Grim anthems for those who like a bit more detail in their sublow beats. Like most of Sam's solo tracks, the beats are built from a relatively small palette of sounds, yet his hyperactive programming skills ensure that nothing stays the same for more than eight bars. "...Cockeral" is held together by a tremulous bassline worthy of Black Ops, yet the convoluted interplay of 140bpm beats and fx, including stealthy deployment of Amen-pressure, outlines a rinsed-out manifesto for the post-breakcore era that you can actually dance to. It's quite interesting to mix a track like this with straight grime/sublow beats - earlier today I rolled-off the bass frequencies and mixed-in Jon E. Cash's "Cash Beat" bassline and it sounded pretty cool. I'm thinking of basing my next live dj set (at Ruffnek next month) around a collision of 'propa' grimey sublow instrumentals with mashed-up Grim noise. Should be fun!

Sweaty Palms EPAlso out this month is the "Sweaty Palms" EP, Sam's second release for Shadetek, sheathed in a full sleeve with a beautiful line drawing by Orin McNeil, featuring what appears to be an orchestra of cyborg monkeys. This release also has a personal significance as it's the first record I know of that namechecks Gutterbreakz on the sleeve! Also included in the list of shout-outs is Atki1. Well, if there's an Atki2 there must be an Atki1 as well, right? But who is he? Sam's twin brother, off course! He gets to be #1 cos he was born a few minutes earlier. Like Sam, he's a formally trained musician, but has continued down the conventional route, currently studying classical composition. I wonder if they'll ever collaborate? How about the "Brothers Grim" EP? Hahaha...

The EP is based around "Shocking Out Proud", Sam's first recorded collaboration with female freestyle rapper Rennee Silver, which has been getting regular airplay from Mary Anne. As well as Sam's own Sweaty Palms mix, there's a heavyduty remix from Drop The Lime (forging links with the 'Grimecore' scene developing on the East Coast of the US) and also the Sweaty Dub instrumental. A slightly different version, along with the EP's final cut "Tantrum", was featured in the mix included with the interview we did last year.

Bookmark Sam's blog for further news and updates on all Atki2/Monkey Steak activity...


Returning to the USA for a moment, I've gotta give props to the guys at Slit Jockey in Philadelphia, who sent me a promo of their "Mixtape Vol.1" CD this month.

Slit Jockey mixtape#1

I think this is the first commercially released grime mixtape to originate from the States, featuring 33 tracks over one hour. The majority are exclusive beats produced by the Slit Jockey Crew - Dev79, Starkey and El Carnico - but with some of the top UK grime MCs, like Kano, Riko and Ghetto, spitting over the top. Although predominantly vocal-based, Dev does drop a few dubs from Monkey Steak, Drop The Lime and Vex'd into the mix. It's a fascinating 60 minute ride with a distinct flava all of it's own. Apparently it should be in selected shops now, but you can order it direct from their site as well. And just to bring this post full-circle, Starkey is set to release an EP called "Local Headlines" on Werk this year.

PS. Hold-tight all vinyl-hating Grim fans - Werk are planning to release the "Grim FM" compilation CD soon, featuring tracks from the original Dubs series plus some new stuff too. More news as it happens...