In a recent interview with Bristol fanzine Tape Echo, Kowton spoke of his desire to make music that was more UK centric and floor oriented. This debut release for his new Pale Fire imprint is determinedly both of those things — and its safe to say anybody expecting the tense, slow-building Bristol house that Kowton has made his own these past few years will be surprised. For while his releases on Idle Hands and [nakedlunch] have pushed a bass-laden sound that is creepy, tense, and often (very) slow, “Des Bisous” owes more to obtuse instrumental grime than anything else.
“Des Bisous” is a cranky, lo-fi, and downright nasty little track that sounds like a 2003 Wiley instrumental being streamed through YouTube directly into the Jah Shaka sound system. It’s intense, sweaty, and distorted as hell, replete with tinny Casio string samples, lashing snares, and a bass rumble that sounds positively volcanic. This is a piece of true aural belligerence that will surely ignite tougher floors, a drunken brute of a tune, staggering in its rawness. On the flipside is “Dub Bisous” — a dub in the traditional 70s sense, made on an old mixing desk alongside effects unit, elements dropping in and out and getting tweaked on the fly. Again, this is sparse and thrilling stuff in which the raw elements revel in their extreme imperfection. Kowton has delivered a total curveball here, and although its base ugliness will assuredly not be for everyone, that’s kind of the point. And, in a UK-bass spectrum that has been continually enamored with classic house music over the past few years — sometimes to the detriment of passion and flame — this comes highly recommended as a welcome subterfuge to encroaching musical conservatism.