Bobby Champs, Drag Queen

[Pictures Music]

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From the beatless, ethereal landscapes of Koreless to the indie-electro sensibilities of Rudi Zygadlo, London-based label Pictures Music are putting their all into reflecting the capital’s, and the wider UK’s, current eclectic sonic palette. Their latest release comes by the way of newcomer Bobby Champs, whose debut Moonlight EP on the label back in February gave the world their first glimpse of this young, musically hard and fast-talking producer. Like Moonlight, the Drag Queen EP is aimed purely at peak-time dance floors, further strengthening Champ’s position within an electronic Britain once again in the grips of techno.

Bobby Champs, “Drag Queen”

The title track is a veritable smack in the chops, driven by an instantly captivating synth line. However, this quickly begins to grate on the ears, requiring a significant pitch-shift upwards midway through to give the track a new lease of life. Champ’s manipulation of his trademark thick, penetrating kicks is imaginative; the drums ducking in and out of the mix almost as if to mirror a DJ at work. Ultimately, the percussive framework beneath offers enough in terms of structural variation to keep the energy sustained and the listener engaged. “Latte” is a simpler record. Again, a heady, big-room synth combines with pounding 4/4 rhythms to give the desired effect. Two lengthy, swirling breakdowns provide the listener with veritable whirlpools of synth and sound within which to submerge themselves, with the drums’ eventual return once again achieving the desired effect. Perhaps a bit too elementary and uninspiring to merit any exceptional praise, it’s punchy and well produced nonetheless.

“Charlie” brings us firmly back on UK soil: the conjunction of crisp, weighty kicks, razor-sharp stabs, and drug-pusher vocal immediately transporting listeners to the main room at any recent Hessle Audio or Swamp 81 showcase. What it may lack in originality, however, it more than makes up for in brute dance-floor utility. Rounding out the release, “Mint400” is strangely at odds with the previous three. For all intents and purposes, it’s a roller, conspicuously lacking the direct audacity that so boldly defines his style. Again, well put together, but demonstrative of little else of value, if perhaps a subtle allusion to Champs’ own deeper sensibilities. Drag Queen then, has its moments and yet it feels too familiar to warrant getting all that worked up about. That said, Champs’ no-nonsense, tech-heavy outlook is explicitly well-timed and will slot seamlessly into the current repertoire of the current UK bass elite, for whom big, main-room techno is playing an increasingly dominant role in both their live and studio-based output. Whether Champ’s future offerings will be as easily incorporated as the styles and sounds go through their inevitable shifts, twists, and turns remains to be seen.

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