Wednesday, 2 February 2011
RECOMMENDED: Kowton - Drunk On Sunday/She Don’t Jack [Idle Hands]
In some ways it’s odd that Joe Cowton has been swiftly filed alongside the bass music masses, when the majority of his tracks share far more with the slo-mo experiments of Berlin’s Workshop label than with anything that’s evolved from the London or Bristol scenes. That said, it’s in part due to his history in dubstep and the labels he’s been associated with, with a stunning first release on Martin Clark’s Keysound imprint and an equally impressive follow-up on Idle Hands. And there are certain traits in his music that warrant immediate comparisons with his UK contemporaries: though they’re recognisable as house, Kowton’s tracks are dark, slow and spacious to the extent that they generate the same feeling of creeping dread that characterised early dubstep. His beats, meanwhile, are swung to the point that they sound liable to fall apart at any time, a legacy of two-step’s latent influence.
Where his music sets itself apart though, not simply from London or Bristol but from anywhere, is its sultry, almost coy attitude; you can practically hear hips start to move as ‘Stasis (G Mix)’ swings into action for the first time. And his tracks are brooding rather than simply moody; instead of standing in the corner, eyes-down-hood-up, they’re akin to dancers who are obviously, almost painfully conscious of every move their bodies make. That aspect was thrown into sharp, silhouetted relief on last year’s awe-inspiring ‘Basic Music Knowledge’, where each of the few elements within the track – a handful of percussive tics, a pair of tightly locked bass and melody lines – flex like individual muscles on a lean frame.
This latest 12” for Idle Hands goes one better. Like the rest of his output it’s unerringly dark in tone, but subtly increases the pace and dancefloor heft. With ‘She Don’t Jack’, it’s possible to imagine it doing serious damage to peak time club crowds – something you certainly wouldn’t have assumed of his previous music. It’s tough to expect anything so stripped back and plain odd to hit dancers like a depth charge, but then it’s also remarkably difficult to envisage any other reaction. ‘Drunk On Sunday’ is closer in tone to some of Workshop’s valium-addled obscurities, less immediate but just as precociously brilliant; here sub-bass takes on an unearthly sense of physicality, at times threatening to overwhelm even on headphones, beneath dissonant winds that whistle through its derelict structure.
Another essential 12” on a label that’s fast turning into one of the UK’s best, from a producer already several leagues ahead of most of the pack, irrespective of location.
Words: Rory Gibb
Kowton - Drunk On Sunday [Idle Hands]
Kowton’s also just recorded the latest mix for mnml ssgs, featuring his own material alongside druggy slow motion tracks from Instra:mental, Szare and more. Get it here: http://mnmlssg.blogspot.com/2011/02/ssg-special-kowton.html