Kowton, Keep Walking

Illustration by Holger Lippmann


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Kowton’s development has seen him move from dubstep-in-a-vacuum reductions to emaciated house à la Kassem Mosse before arriving at his own peculiar but instantly recognizable blend of exhausted, stepping house. Joe Cowton’s music has a dreary facade of permanent circles under the eyes, fatigued muscle movements, a bounce and a swing that has more in common with sleepwalking than dancing. It’s always fascinating to see what what the Bristol producer will do next, from the high-strung elasticity of his last record on Idle Hands (“She Don’t Jack”) to career highlight “Beneath Radar” on Peverelist’s new Livity imprint. His latest comes on Irish narcotics dealer [nakedlunch] — a perfect fit for his sound when you think about it — and Cowton blesses the label with some of his most complex and detailed tracks yet.

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His tracks are still eerily spare, but here they’re lit up periodically by uncharacteristically vivid flashing chords and silky streams of synth. The eight-minute “Keep Walking” pulls itself forward wearily like the title suggests, a sort of deadened boogie that laboriously trawls through a catchy descending progression. But the track is nudged along by lush swells of color and melody — not the kind of thing you necessarily expect from a Kowton track. With the same idea in mind, “Show Me” is built on a bed of familiarly snapping percussion and drilling sub-bass — and sultry vocal snippets — but a breakdown sends it hurtling into lush dub techno territory, the firm and skeletal structure suddenly bouncing off a rubbery and tactile foundation. If you weren’t already in the Kowton camp — and you should be by this point — the way he continues to take his core sound and tinker with it is endlessly enticing. If you don’t believe me, all you have to do is take a listen to his all-originals mix he disseminated at the beginning of August — and for a DJ-friendly snapshot of his greatness, this single does just fine too.

enda  on August 31, 2011 at 10:08 PM

Killer stuff and an excellent label.

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