Thursday, 29 July 2010
RECOMMENDED: Ramadanman - Fall Short/Work Them [Swamp81]
To his credit, it’s getting harder and harder to talk about David Kennedy’s music without sounding hyperbolic. Already this year he’s put out a steady stream of groundbreaking releases, each of which has effectively redesigned what was already a very malleable template into an entirely new form. Perhaps even more impressive – if just as unsurprising, given his record over the last couple of years – is the sheer level of quality control he manages to exercise over his music, as though it’s literally impossible for the guy to make a bad tune. In the last three months alone, his first Pearson Sound release in a while toyed with the same Autonomic ideas he first explored on his remix of Scuba’s ‘Tense’, to dramatic effect. The output of his usual Ramadanman alias, on the other hand, has shot literally through the roof: the drum machine blasts and delicate vocal chemistry of ‘Glut’, where juke’s battle-scarred 808s were put to the service of something far more intangible, jittery junglist stylings on his self-titled Hessle Audio EP, a Todd Edwards lovin’ collaboration with Midland, and a seemingly endless array of quality remixes.
So trying to trace a steady path through Kennedy’s maze is proving a little nightmarish, but on the evidence of his latest plate for Swamp81 it’s probably safest to say his optimum working state is one of perpetual change. The shifts are usually incremental – ‘Work Them’ is a not-so-distant relation of ‘Glut’, with a rapidly descending upper register drum hit that strafes the dancefloor, and ‘Fall Short’ possesses the same nervy, restless energy as the best tracks from his self-titled effort – but they are suggestive of a mind that operates in constant motion. ‘Work Them’ is the obvious big hitter on here. Appropriately for the following release on Swamp81, it’s the bigger, badder and smarter brother of Addison Groove’s ubiquitous ‘Footcrab’ (I always preferred ‘Dumbshit’ anyway), crafted with a careful sleight of hand that allows its monotonous groove to be both maddening and compulsive at once. Halfway across its length, Kennedy opens up the mix to a stunningly elegiac wash of harmony, thoroughly putting paid to the false notion that anthemic in any way equals unsubtle.
‘Fall Short’, though, is the superior cut on an already superior twelve. Like ‘A Couple More Years,’ the almost unbearable melancholy Burial is able to inject into his tracks fully permeates its skeletal percussive structure. It’s as though Kennedy’s built another ‘Work Them’, then proceeded to subtract every extraneous element and leave nothing but the barest essentials. The result, as with so much of his recent music – and that of the rest of the Hessle Audio stable – defies many of the notions of what ‘dubstep’ is, or ought to be. If you can even call it that anymore; in future, I have my suspicions that this sort of stripped-back, polyrhythmic bass sound may well be referred to simply as ‘Hessle music.’ As mentioned earlier, I’m cautious of sounding excessively hyperbolic by praising Ramadanman this highly at what is still a comparatively early stage in his career, but in five or ten years’ time, if people aren’t looking back to this twelve as a crucial step in the genre’s ongoing evolution, I’ll eat my own copy.
Words: Rory Gibb