XXXY/Ike Release, Infra12002


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Amid the hullabaloo about new-garage, the Infrasonics label has quietly been cultivating a uniquely minimalist take on swung-drum bass music, distilling the sound to its bare essence. Infra12002, a 12″ split between XXXY and Ike Release, furthers this ideal. The former opts for jazzier inflections, while the latter employs a harder-edged techno sensibility; throughout it all, though, is a focus on restraint. For the most part, the removal of melody affords some pleasing breathing room, and the drum programming and subs shine. However, in places this emptiness is cause for a sort of agoraphobia. On the final track, the rhythm is dowsed in hackneyed pads, as if in fear that it could not stand up with more subtle inflections.

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Contrastingly, XXXY’s “Blue Flashing Lights” seems totally governed by its shuffle, which dips in and out of clean 4/4, constantly in flux. Its 8 bit squelches, slight pads, quick vocal snips are used percussively, so intertwined with the rhythm, that it can feel somewhat sparse. But drawing listeners attention to the adept programming is why it works. His second piece, “Know You,” is the stylistic odd-track-out here. Loose and built on breaks with a backdrop of fuzzy, drifting synths, it’s not so far from Cooly G’s more sedate moments. Its rolling drowsiness feels like a bit of a respite from its austere companions.

The swing on Ike Release’s steely “Iridescence” is underlined by crackle and moody drones; as with “Blue Flashing Lights,” it’s busy enough for the lack of melodic elements to matter much, with a variety of quick stabs — vocal, organ — sparingly laced throughout its rippling structure. The record closes with “Nature Manipulation,” all heavy kicks, offbeat percussion and doomy dub techno washes, a combination I’ve frankly heard enough of. It’s well produced, yes — those pads do have a lot of cushion. But this track could have appeared on so many dubstep-meets-techno releases from the last year, and compared to everything else here, it’s fairly dismal. Still, most of Infra12002 is refreshingly low-key for a new garage release; and while its calculated approach might sacrifice pop appeal, it also marks it as proper material for the mix, worth checking for the moments in between hugely dramatic peaktime hits.

Nadir  on May 17, 2010 at 11:36 PM

This one’s got something


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