The Infrasonics split 12" series continues with another heavy slab of dancefloor wares, cut in a tested four track double A side format and signalling the return of a familiar pairing, with the ‘Infra12004’ EP rematching XXXY vs Ike Release.
The series was early to anticipate the existing melting pot on UK bass influenced dancefloors and this drop follows in that ilk: the stripped back, heads down dirty house of XXXY contrasting the sleek, sophisticated anthems of Ike Release. XXXY will need little introduction, his trajectory heading towards the stratosphere of late.
Since his first split on Infrasonics in early 2010 he’s gone on to landmark releases on labels like Orca and Doc Daneeka’s Ten Thousand Yen, whilst turning in some solid remixes from acts as diverse as The Count & Sinden, to the white-hot How To Dress Well, culminating in winning an invitation to participate in the next prestigious Red Bull Music Academy sessions in Madrid. He turns in two tracks of stripped back brilliance, leading with the tumbling Chicago toms of ‘Body Movin’, a track that builds around the insistent eponymous vocal hook and jacks with increasing layers of percussion atop an overdriven sweep, rooting the tune with a nod to the past whilst propelling it forward. The crescendo is aheavily filtered break that pauses and spins before dropping back to the hook.
‘Swing Those Hips’ follows with a bumping UK house vibe, all pounding kicks and stabbing chords, with swing for days. On the flip, Infrasonics mainstay Ike Release brings his third drop to the label – one of the most accessible to date, and a taster of his forthcoming debut album. The razor sharp percussion and bass weight are still in prominent effect, but the tracks are built with more obvious pop sensibilities. ’Don’t Know’ spirals around a stab and tantalising edgy vocal hook before unleashing a killer drop that pulses with analogue style percussive synths. The track effortlessly spins around the groove, pausing for respite as the vocal phonemes are processed in a 3D space before that breakstep kicks back. The aptly named ‘Outrun’ is a far sleeker and sexier affair, underpinned by a loping, stuttering synth line that propels the tracking through it’s shifting gears in a nod to the arcade game of the same name.
The vocal inflection is pure funk, contrasting the mechanical groove as the 4/4 pounds. The Germanic influence is prominent but the vocal nods to the US house of Ike’s hometown, Chicago. As Resident Advisor’s Andrew Ryce puts it, “I love the way ’Don’t Know’ bleeds together the vocal samples and the percussion stays so lightweight, almost like aluminium, but still with that weighty impact.”
Infrasonics team up XXXY and Ike Release again following the slick moves of last years split. Man-of-the-moment XXXY jams on a jukin’ House jack with ‘Body Movin’‘, riding tight, punchy Toms and crisp claps to sweatin’ effect, while ‘Swing Those Hips’ runs back to sexier mid-‘90s Garage flavours for a reet slinky squirmer. Dropping the energy levels, but amping the atmospheric vibes, Ike Release settles into the more fluid, rolling groove contours of ’Don’t Know’ flushed with lovely, warm pads and elegantly swirling vocal samples, before slipping down a notch for the convective chords and languid 808 push of ‘Outrun’ – a good look for fans of George Fitzgerald or Joy Orbison’s more melancholy moments.
London-based Infrasonics continues to understatedly push the UK sound forward, this latest release sees Manchester’s xxxy throw down the feisty footwurkin’ ‘Body Movin’’ and percussive jam ‘Swing Those Hips’ whilst Ike Release’s agile beats and crafty bass weight are just perfect for dark dancefloors. Ace.
Back before xxxy was a world-traveling superstar DJ, he caught my ear with the excellent ‘Know You,’ one of the finest tracks in the burgeoning garage revival at that time in 2010. That release was split with two intriguing tracks from a relative unknown Ike Release, and the odd pair make a return together for a follow-up on Infrasonics just over a year and a half later. This time though, I’d level the playing field a bit: Ike Velez shows himself to be every bit the scrappy underdog, with a standout track much like ‘Know You’ was back in the day.
Like most of the releases on Spatial’s Infrasonics label, these vaguely garage-y tunes are spare and exact almost to the point of being antiseptic, but they subsist on sheer momentum and tenacity. In both of his tunes, Velez funnels phased vocals through the background; in the fantastic ’Don’t Know’ they dart around nervous chord stabs and arpeggios that build tension for what feels like an extremely delayed drop (no drums for 90 seconds). But when the drums do come in, it’s a slippery, sexy pattern where each snare and crisp click feels like it’s sliding off the next in a graceful manner at odds with the track’s austerity. ‘Outrun’ plays with the same palette of dry drums and simple synth sounds, only this time the chords are flattened out into sheets of sound that roll off the more straightforward house progression.
In keeping with some of his more recent material like ‘You Gotta Do You,’ xxxy’s tracks are also quite parched, universes away from the arpeggio explosions of his memorable Ten Thousand Yen track ‘Ordinary Things.’ Think wooden electro and you’ll have an idea of what ‘Body Movin’’ sounds like, all frantic syllables and jittery drums. It might all end up a little flat if those dull drums didn’t suddenly come apart halfway through, thrown around the track recklessly while an unstable bass line squelches and splashes away. Less startling but smoother is ‘Swing Those Hips,’ essentially a modern garage take on the eminently smooth sound of classic Chicago house, warm chords and soft hats sped up to unusual tempos. It’s been well over a year since the last one and things have certainly changed, but there’s no denying that the follow-up xxxy-Ike Release split is just as strong as the first.
“Finally, new food from Infrasonics […] so hot!”
Here’s the full review in German from the magazine