Boomkat Product Review:
Late nite dreamworld constructions from Bristol-based Londoner Intel Mercenary and Berlin-based New Yorker Wilted Woman. IM's side is squashed MPC-powered outsider grime, like early Eski productions given a swirly PS1-filtered hit of purple smoke, while Wilted Woman's dives into introspective Artificial Intelligence-style synth jam modes, hovering thru club architecture without fully touching the dancefloor. Tipped!
Growing up in New Cross, Intel Mercenary used to DJ for Block Kidz, a local grime outfit that counted P Money, Blacks and Little D in its number. But after losing a grip of records in a burglary, IM stopped spinning for good - this 22 minute set was recorded between 2016 and 2018 and has sat gathering dust on the MPC since then. The music captures a hyper-specific mood that's no doubt cemented by its relatively spare production method; confined to the MPC, IM is forced to be economical with musical choices, using just a few elements for each track. The drum machine's unique compression helps too, lending the tracks a distinct breath that ties it to the glory days of '90s hip-hop without the usual obvious callsigns.
It's minimal stuff throughout, usually made-up of booming bass, tight, rattling beatbox percussion and sparse melodic elements - sometimes there's a steel drum, bass pluck or pitched synth blip, but for the most part this music is focused on the rhythmic flux. The best stylistic comparison might be Wiley or Sketpa's earliest material, but IM's tunes also draw in elements from vintage PS1 soundtracks, operating in a post-chiptune melodic superstructure that's easy to pick out in the set's second half.
On the flip, Wilted Woman manages to paint a similarly evocative horizon, but one from a completely different era. Her focus here sounds as if it's trained on the early 1990s "Artificial Intelligence" era, with clipped drum machine loops, brain-tickling acid squiggles, deep as fuck Detroit basslines and richly psychedelic synth melodies. Made during quarantine in Berlin, there's a sense that this set is a projection of club music from a mind trapped indoors - beats are slowed to a crawl, and melodies are given space to breathe and develop into memorable themes and motifs. It's somewhere between early μ-Ziq, AFX and Carl Craig, but reconfigured to fit the East Coast basement aesthetic. Very good indeed.