Seagrave’s second instalment of their compilation EPs “Quarters” is a tetrathlon of wonky club rockets, with the course charted out through the leftfield.
The release plods into action with “KEK”: a tightly-coiled collaboration between seasoned dubstepper Stereotyp and Malaysian standout Arabyrd. No stranger to eclectic pairings, Arabyrd’s riffs are a piquant accompaniment to the sinister instrumental–a rolling, sludgy effort with trap and dubstep flavours à la Disco Rekah. From Vienna to Kuala Lumpur via London, KEK shows the time-proven value in international link-ups.
Next on the billing, K-65 goes straight to the rave with unapologetic drum and bass flavours, matching uptempo drums, guttural strings and punchy 808s with histrionic vocals; bell-style arpeggios creep their way up through the middle of the track and make for a wonderfully euphoric crescendo–one to be heard through a post-covid club system.
Low End Activist then jumps aboard with a refix of “4am”–a murky UKG cut underscored by the click-clacks of a cold snare and a subby bass that fast finds itself front and centre after the halfway point. Dancehall vocals swell in and out along with terse synth motifs, providing brief flecks of light before again shrouding the listener in a moody soundscape.
Finally, on a release replete with disjointed features, Sentinel 793’s “Hat Rocks” is perhaps the most eccentric of them all. The range of stereo work is deft and anxiety pushing, with uncertainty emerging as the prevailing feeling. The format of a partially-reconstructed, progressive electronic track is there, but it is clear there’s intentional subversion at hand–one to annoy the purists.
Quarters volume 2 is a well-curated snapshot of leftfield bass music around the world, with a little something for everyone.
The good thing about instrumental dance music is often the title of the song doesn’t matter. See Autechre or Aphex Twin. The problem is then the name can sometimes influence how you interpret the music. So I want to ignore the name “Shattered Retina” because it’s a much more disturbing image than the track deserves.
“Shattered Retina”, the first track from this EP by Cocktail Party Effect, is a gorgeous industrial, or bass, or techno roller, depending on your context. Simple and driving, skittering bass as/and kick, with distortion, offsets sonar blips, and light drones. There’s just enough occasional percussion to add variation. Reminiscent of “I care because you do” Aphex, It’s dark and brooding but somehow warm and calming at the same time, like thunder rolling in.
“Triops” takes the industrial feel further, first with anxiety-inducing heart monitor blips and then with crunchy, schizophrenic drums that confuse the senses. The sounds are close and then far away. Stop time rhythms catch you off guard, before pummeling you relentlessly. It captures your attention and never lets go.
“When the Gun Claps” feels like a classic speed garage breakdown gone horribly wrong. Tension builds around a hard-as-hell vocal sample, but without release. Until it goes in! Halfway through the tune, gun fingers are in the air and heads are bobbing. If the whole EP were a single track, this would be the section you were waiting for. Hard percussion, texture and tone, and effect arrangement remind me of “Lion” by Vex’d, to this day, one of my favorite tracks ever.
Finally, “I feel sick”. An industrial techno build is followed by brutal machinery, hard at work. The robot war involves lasers. Machines can scream. A more straight forward arrangement gives way to straight-up industrial-strength drums, noise, and beats.
This whole EP is certainly not for the faint of heart but is expertly crafted, and well worth the listen.
© Bass Tourist