Bass Music . Grime . Jungle . Future Beats


Mercury award winner James Blake releases his 4th studio album Assume Form. The album features collaborations with Travis Scott, André 3000, Metro Boomin, Moses Sumney and Rosalía (BBC sound poll 2019). In the past 2-3 years James has been very busy collaborating with Beyonce, Kendrick Lamar, Travis Scott, Jay Z, Frank Ocean, Oneohtrix Point Never, Mount Kimbie and contributing to the Black Panther soundtrack. As unrestricted by genre as it is always underpinned by classic, emotionally-open songwriting, James Blake’s new album is arguably his most direct, eclectic and pure artistic statement to date. Assume Form also follows a rich period of creative and personal evolution for James, who has spoken candidly about his experiences of mental health, modern-day masculinity, and finding peace. Even the album artwork would appear to represent a fundamental shift for Blake, no longer distorted by illustration, landscape or design, but staring right at you – and into the future.

James Blake’s is an influence that can be felt throughout the modern musical landscape, often hiding in plain sight; allowing the man himself – as his fourth album suggests – to always evolve. To never settle. To Assume Form.

Exterior is the artist moniker of Edinburgh producer Doug MacDonald. Exterior represents his transition to electronic music and an embrace of the dancefloor. Doug played hardcore and noise-rock for a long time before eventually abandoning collaboration, nostalgia and formulaic rebellion in favour of synthesis. What he gained on the way was an understanding of the power of live drumming and years of finely honed performance-skills, something of an aberration in dance music.

Exterior thus represents a convergence of disparate personal and musical pleasures. Accordingly Exterior draws on rhythmic mavericks as divergent as Fugazi, Battles & Swans as well as DJ Spoko, Clark & Hieroglyphic Being. In addition, there is a deep undercurrent of melody and texture, drawing on the likes of Burial, Miles Davis & Bjork. Eschewing the modern home computer in favour of an exclusively hardware based approach, Exterior espouses a physical relationship to what is at heart an abstract practice, composing electronic dance music. Perhaps it’s unsurprising, then, that one of the things which really sets Exterior apart is his intoxicating live show. He gets the crowd going every single time he performs, so infectious is his energy, as he throws shapes and struts his stuff behind the gear, clearly 100% in the moment and his element.

The three originals contains here are a perfectly modern amalgamation of choice dance music tropes. There's the full frequency spectrum assault of UK bass, the highly frenetic rhythms of Chicago house, the hoover synths of Belgium techno and the glitch, wobbly and wierdness of the Cornish acid crew (AFX, Ceefax, Sqaurepusher); all ushered through at an ADHD-satisfying urgency and intensity. In short, it's the technicoloured endorphin rush your stadium rave up never knew it wanted; with myriad moods sweeping through the three tracks effortlessly.

On remix duties, the elusive but prolific DALI's "Collapsing Star" remix clocks in at just over 9 minutes, another marathon-length effort and perfectly encapsulating its namesake. Setting the beats to classic electro, everything's pushed hard until it all seems ready to fall rapidly apart (and it very nearly does), before dissolving in a fiery sizzle: a more visceral, dancefloor accompaniment to Exterior's heady affair.

South London's Troy Town follows up a tasty Wbeeza EP with the rave-flecked optimism of Copper Green Sedan's "Pedestrian EP".

A multi-intrumentalist who was living a nomadic life through northern Europe, these tracks were inspired and conjured up on the road before being finalized in a rapid and creative studio session.

"Pedestrian" opens proceedings, a perfect hybrid of garage and house, it's both shoulder-rolling and elbows-out grooves instantly work their magic on the body, while quiet sustained strings lurk in the recesses. Bursts of rich piano cut through this tribal blueprint, shining a bright light through the murky, club-seasoned darkness.

"Rolling In The Long Grass" is a smooth and techy affair, with those patented low subs powering the bottom end, it's immediately tailored towards the crisp and heavy soundsystems of the global dance village. An intricate arrangement litters the mix with elements, darting synths, reversed perc, elastic leads; all with a very textured and detailed perspective.

Final OG from CGS, "Gene", ditches any beat syncopation for a driving 4/4, galvanized with shimmering keys and rising strings, this is the euphoric rush of endorphines required to close off the EP in epic style. Growing in intensity, with some subtle but arresting switches, and highly mobile bottom end you're gonna struggle not to lose your shit to this in the club!

Desert Sound Colony gets their mits on the stems of "Pedestrian", turning out an able-bodied and stylish tweak that stays true to the original on many levels, just dressed it out in some alternative instrumentation. Mega stuff!

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