Boomkat Product Review:
Survey of contemporary grime instrumentals compiled by Joe Muggs for Big Dada. There’s no denying that grime’s been enjoying a partial resurgence of late, gaining traction with a new generation bored by dubstep’s descent into stadium-friendly wobble hell and/or glossy tech-house dereliction. The curation of the comp suggests that ‘grime’ is a flexible, porous term - perhaps better understood in terms of a certain shark-eyed, thugged-out mood rather than a firm set of sonic signifiers. But this does mean there are occasions where you find yourself thinking - is this track actually grime at all? Swifta Beater’s ‘Numb VIP’ and Teeza’s ‘Rum and Coke’ are textbook dubstep tracks, no more no less, and Faze Miyake’s smart 808-driven ‘5000’, despite some nice Ruff Sqwad string jabs, sounds like it got lost on its way to a trap compilation; meanwhile Chaos & Order’s ‘Logan’s Mind’, one of the best riddims on show, is as much dystopian dancehall or 5am braindance as it is grime. Sadly most of the producers go overboard and lose sight of the ruthless minimalism - not a stab or drum hit wasted - that defined grime instrumentals in their heyday and made them so perfect for MCs to jump on, and instead load everything and the kitchen sink into their tracks, losing the plot. But not all: Visionist channels the stripped, stacatto 8-bar attacks of Danny Weed and Jon E Cash with real authority, adding rogue psychedelic elements on ‘Dem Times’, the gulliest thing here, and committed grime archivist Slackk shows perhaps the deepest appreciation of the genre with his rude, agile, Eski-spiced cut ‘Spray’. There’s a fair bit of fluff filling out the tracklist, but there are some sure shots too: Darq E Freaker comes correct with mallet-to-the-head claps and spiralling synths of ‘Trojan’, and the sheer bounce of Preditah’s ‘Vinyls VIP’ is impossible to argue with. The old guard are out in force too: Wiley makes an appearance with the svelte, almost statesmanlike ‘Logic Pro’, MRK1 makes Alias sound subtle on (wait for it) ‘Smash It Hard’, and Spooky delivers the comp’s most stealthy, club-friendly cut in ‘Moonlight’. Sinden delivers what must be one of the toughest productions of his career, a mean, Pulse X-repping stepper named ‘Arcane’, and Starkey also impresses with the chrome-plated, spaced-out ‘Tunnel’.