A far cry from the sort of anthemic instrumentals that had previously comprised the bulk of his productions, Terror Danjah’s 2010 debut full-length, Undeniable, showed off a level of understated musicality that was catnip for Hyperdub devotees. However, new single Dark Crawler — released ahead of his upcoming second LP, also titled Dark Crawler — sees the grime scene mainstay reprising the uncompromising bravado of his earlier work. The A-side forgoes any notions of subtlety in favor of exaggerated flourishes of strings, gun cocks, and air horns. The densely packed instrumental threatens to overshadow all but the largest of personalities — just as well that it is Riko Dan, the London City Warlord, on the vocal, whose acerbic wit and inimitable Jamaican-accented flow are more than a match. There is an element of cartoonish fantasy threaded all the way through the lyrics; tongue firmly in cheek, Riko name-checks the likes of Saddam and Bin Laden. Clocking in at under three minutes, “Dark Crawler”‘s brevity encourages repeated listens — just as well, too, as the beat will feature no fewer than three times on the album (due out in September), with Trim and Kozzie being two of the MCs who will attempt to match Riko’s spirited effort.
B-side, “Fruit Punch,” is an entirely different affair, with a stripped-down, monotone bass line repeatedly interjecting itself over a syncopated mélange of hats and congas that recalls an emergent UK funky scene and the tropical percussion of a Roska or Hard House Banton. Juxtaposed with the finely polished production of “Dark Crawler,” it is a sound that will perhaps come across as dated to some, although at least serves to underline the diversity of Terror Danjah’s repertoire. At the risk of sounding greedy, the track might well have been improved with a vocal take, as Riko underlined in session with Logan Sama on Kiss FM at the end of July.