Infrasonics boss Spatial is proving to be as canny a selector as he is inspired a producer with this second double header 12’ on the label, pitting new boy XXXY up against cocksure second-former Ike Release. Continuing the ride on UK-centric sub bass vibrations, XXXY ventures into 130bpm territory with two house-funky-2step-wtvr mashups, while Ike continues his sonic exploration of the Berlin-London trajectory as presaged in his debut release for Infrasonics last year. With the four-track ‘Infra12002’ EP, Infrasonics contributes its own reaserch to the investigation by an innovative wave of UK-focussed producers who are captialising on the atemporal history of dance as documented through the internet, taking elements of past, present and future to recontextualise into their own unique incarnation of bass driven electronic dance music.
XXXY’s filtered snare introduces the record with anthem-in-waiting ‘Blue Flashing Lights’, before dropping into bashy rhythm driven by a beckoning sub and his own minimal aesthetic. The pattern evolves into a 4×4 groove as the track gains momentum, the bass figure modulates pitch and the responding lazer synth adds resolution, as a broken beat pattern and vocal cuts layer and synths build and swirl. The bright chords opening ‘Know You’ introduce a more optimistic sonic pallete on the second track, with an offbeat snare and overall vibe sat somewhere between Roska and Kenny Larkin. The sub-bass emerges to ground the track firmly within LDN’s reach as subtle layers of percussion build with congas, bells and shakers introducing the break, before a more intense bass kicks the cut up a gear.
Ike Release starts his side with the swirling pad and 2-step groove of ‘Iridescent’ before dropping a heads-down sub and unleashing a killer groove. A syncopation of well placed percussion follows a similar trajectory to recent James Blake or Ramadanman releases but the spiky reversed synths provide as much reference to Detroit as they do to Berlin – his current residence. In ‘Natural Manipulation’ Ike uses layers of delayed synths to provide a backdrop of 5am Berghain textures that swirl around a pulsating, warm, driving sub and stepping broken groove that shuffles effortlessly through the duration of the track, highlighting a production style that is innately danceable. DJs across the board are already showing support for these tracks, including Ross Allen, Ben UFO, Hot City, Mosca, T++, Scuba, Appleblim, Dave Q, and Incyde. Mastered and cut with the eye of a royal jeweller by Jason at Transition Studio.
XXXY heads up the second 12" from Infrasonics in a split-off with Ike Release. Both of XXXY’s cuts explicitly reference the Funky and Garage styles which have saturated his sets of late, from the minimised Funky scuff ‘n skip of ’Blue Flashing Lights’ to the more broken beat drums of ‘Know You’ sounding compatible with your Altered Natives and Karizma rekkids. Ike Release is on a strictly skippers tip with ‘Iridescent’ arranging glassy synth movements with sticky 2-step patterns and a deep blue mood. Standing head and shoulders above all these however, is ‘Nature Manipulation’, blending SND-sharp electronics with Dutch techno chords and a central motor of restless 2-step.
In ‘Blue Flashing Lights’, XXXY nourishes the 8bit-step par excellence. ‘Know You’ is of different language, much more deep house, and imposes a strangely comic preset-drum line in its framework which step by step transforms into a dubstep bull fight ring.
Then Ike Release on the B-side: ‘Iridescent’ is as plushly furnished as the surface/interface of Pong, yet it vibrates in brightest colours. The subtle strings help thereby of course. ‘Nature Manipulation’ strikes back with bold dub references, twitchy 909 high hats and a thunderstorm which may well become the new standard.
Infrasonics label head spatial constructed an elegant and impressive mix for FACT earlier this year, a fluid melding of dubstep, techno, house, garage, and everything else, one with an ear and feeling equalled by few others operating in the same ill-defined genre nexus. The releases on his label – at first his own tunes only, and now in the midst of a series of split EPs – feel like the building blocks to that sort of alchemy; sparse, reduced bangers with interlocking connectors, ripe for blending and layering.
That comment is not to take away from these tracks and the way they’re presented is splendid in all their bare glory. Manchester’s xxxy helms the first half of the EP, ‘Blue Flashing Lights’ splashing powerful Funky percussion loops with glints of 8-bit grit, a nod to recent producers using the distinctive sound as the backbone of new movements in both dubstep and grime. Picking up steam as it rolls along, heavy sub-bass floats in like ominous fog while xxxy lets loose more samples, including something that sounds like a mercilessly manipulated Terror Danjah drop. For his other track here, ‘Know You’, he comes up with something a little more defined, all luxurious chords and super clean drums as new layers are delicately folded in. When the track breaks out into mad skank mode for a few bars, it’s an unnecessary victory lap [wtf? this is the best bit – Ed] that makes the resurgence of those chords when the track recedes back into its previous groove more powerful. ‘Know You’ is one of those should-be anthems that doesn’t necessarily break the mould, but is just so words-don’t-matter perfect at what it does it’s hard not to get excited when it comes into earshot.
If xxxy’s compositions are fun and inviting, infrasonics cohort Ike Release’s are austere and serious, dealing with the same palette but in a different context: ‘Iridescent’ juggles woodblock-y percussion a la Mount Kimbie, doling out smooth obsidian chords around snatches of vocals. The faster ‘Nature Manipulation’ is colour-inverted dubstep; dubby dread hits turned into sheets of stark white as the kicks and snares joyfully pound away. With this EP in the bag, an already formidable back catalogue and a new single on the way featuring more house reductions from Jamie Grind and Gon, Infrasonics continues to prove itself as a label that trades in sleek, sexy bass music that is as implacable as it is irresistible.