Thursday, 1 April 2010

PRE-ORDER: Ikonika - Idiot/Altered Natives Remix [Hyperdub]

Ikonika’s 'Contact, Love, Want, Have' album is a strikingly impressive vindication of the keen melodic sense displayed on her earlier releases. Even so, what’s so impressive about the album’s first single, 'Idiot,' is how seamlessly it reconciles the more lopsided aspects of a track like ‘Please’ with the kind of razor-sharp dancefloor material her DJ sets have brimmed with in the last year or so. Riding off an instantly recognisable and insanely catchy (seriously, I’ve spent the last two weeks wondering around shrieking it at people) bleep melody, it manages to pitch itself somewhere in the strange bass hinterlands where the most stripped-back and grimey London house meets the Megadrive-funk of Joker and Gemmy.

But even to reduce it to such a simplistic ‘Artist X meets Artist Y in the badly-lit back room of a dodgy basement club’ definition feels tantamount to sterilisation. Despite the ease at which it fits into its surroundings ‘Idiot’'s core melody is anything but straightforward, displaying a raw and distinctly human arrhythmia quite at odds with the delicately sequenced nature of so much dance music. Combined with a real sense of narrative movement – each successive cycle of the track sees a new layer of complementary counter-harmony added, building to a climax of slowly piroutetting bleeps more akin to Reich than Roska – the effect is dizzying and compulsively replayable. Watch the rewinds hit this beast hard.

The Altered Natives mix on the flip seems conscious of what it’s got to live up to, and it’s to his credit that he doesn’t attempt to mess with the original’s precarious chemistry. What we get instead is a precision rewiring of ‘Idiot'’s bottom end, streamlining Ikonika’s swagger-step mechanics for a driving house workout. Staying hypnotically swung throughout, incremental tonal shifts across its length reveal striking depths – it’s pretty strong testament to Altered Natives’ production skills that he’s put together a funky track that really needs to stay in the mix for its entire length to reveal its full power on a dancefloor. Along with Kyle Hall’s effortless fusion of Detroit and London styles on ‘Kaychunk,’ it points towards a bold fusion of styles that Hyperdub, as ever, continues to usher into wider consciousness.

Words: Rory Gibb
Out: 12th April


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