Last year Mumdance delivered one of the best and most exciting mixes of the year when he turned in his contribution to the celebrated FabricLive mix series. As producers Mumdance and Logos sit as pioneers of what they term the Weightless genre. Think part instrumental My Bloody Valentine noise, grime 2.0 beats and old school jungle reference points and you are getting close. Part of their vision is the record label Different Circles. And it is from releases on this label that Mumdance and Logos have compiled this new mix album.
Some of the tracks, which appear here will be familiar to those who listened to last year’s pioneering FabricLive mix, however, there are plenty of new cuts to keep the audience happy. To say the sound of the tracks on the record is like nothing else, even when they have been heard before, is an under exaggeration. This mix sounds otherworldly. At points ethereal but also dark and aggressive much of the sound presented feels like a logical experimental step for the sort of instrumentals Wiley was cooking up around 2003.
Despite its very experimental sound the Weightless genre has caught the imaginations of many grime producers several of whom are represented here including Rabit and Boxed frequenter Sharp Veins. However, many of the tracks are plucked from the back-catalogues of Mumdance and Logos themselves. Though a lack of diversity might exist it isn’t a problem when your productions sound as alien as these.
Different Circles is a short mix which flies by far too quickly and unlike last year’s FabricLive mix there is no exploration of wider genres or of sounds, which may have influenced Mumdance and Logos. However, as everything here sounds so fresh, exciting and experimental the negatives don’t have much of an impact. Different Circles is a great mix for fans of experimental music, lovers of last year’s FabricLive mix and a great stepping stone for those wishing to explore the Weightless genre.
Electronic music is filled with men of mystery from Zomby to Burial and like his XL Label mate Jai Paul, MssingNO fits nicely into this category having released a highly acclaimed EP on Goon Allstars the producer then disappeared, to do what? Travel the world? Work a 9 to 5? Observe the gritty world around him? Who knows, but whatever MssingNO got up to whilst missing in action it sure as hell lit a fire up under his arse. Because Fones is exceptional.
As an EP Fones fits into the ever so popular and growing grime 2.0 genre with icicle beats enveloping street level aggression. Layered on top of each track are sped up female vocals which could have come straight from the PC music back catalogue.
Each track is incredibly textured with perhaps Scope standing out as the strongest track. Annie Mac has been dropping Scope regularly on her week night show giving it as much acclaim as I am here. Sparkly synths kickoff the track before they give way to a vocal which stands somewhere between J-Pop and UK Garage, after which the bass kicks in with a vibe that could be best described as influenced by two-step but is in fact from a world of its own.
The track Inta was released last year on XL Recordings fantastic Chapter VI album, a mission statement to the future of dance music from the UK’s best and most important indie label. A similar statement of intent is also laid down by MssingNo on Fones, as the producer uses the release to provide an insight into what grime and the future of UK bass music should, if sense allows, sound like.
Certainly this release won’t be for every grime and UK basshead out there. But those who are more adventurous will only gain from getting hold of a copy of Fones. If this is, as MssingNO envisions, the future of grime and bass music then that future is shaping up to be an experimental and exciting adventure.
Call it what you want; grime 2.0, weightless or just plain old grime last year was a crowning moment for the producers behind grime music. Instrumentals became almost more vital than the MCs spitting on them. Mumdance produced a staggering fabric mix and albums by Visionist, Mumdance and Logos, Arca and Oneohtrixpointnever appeared in countless best of the year lists. Two producers who have also found themselves tied to this rise are Rabit and Lee Bannon (under the name Dedekind Cut for this release). Rabit released the brilliant Communion last year whilst Lee Bannon produced Pattern of Excel and in 2014 the old school jungle referencing, and well worth listening to, Alternate/Endings.
On R&D these influences and the two producers combine incredibly, with the end product being one of the most exciting releases since Burial’s Rival Dealer. The comparison is apt, for much like that release Rabit and Lee Bannon have avoided traitional song structure in favour of producing something beautiful out of ugly, contrasting and aggressive fragments. Sure the reference points of jungle, grime and weightless hang all over these short few tracks, but what is interesting and exciting to see is the way in which the producers have broken apart their influences and then stuck them back together again almost violently with (one might assume) some cheap pritt stick (which they were later caught sniffing in the back of the studio).
Each listen reveals something new: a voice in the background, noise mutating into music, street level aggression, ghostly breathy bass, all are subtly hidden and woven amongst the layers of this album. Mary Anne Hobbs on previewing the release was so blown away she played the whole thing in one unedited cut, that unedited cut is included on the release and well worth listening to as a seperate track to the four parts which comprises the full release.
There always exists, when throwing away formal song structure, the danger that the end product is unlistenable. Far from falling into this trap Lee Bannon and Rabit have created something, which becomes more listenable and rewarding everytime you press play on your IPod.
R+D, which is only avaliable via Bandcamp, is certainly aggressive, definitely loud and incredibly challenging but the rewards which can be had from listening to it are vast. Rabit and Lee Bannon have truly excelled in producing what will be one of the most experimental yet exciting releases of this year and is highly recommended for all fans of grime and jungle.