What gets us coming back to grime every time is its sense of melody. When rhythm or timbre are the pursuit of much dance music, melody can be swamped, or indeed purposefully neglected in favour of different, more functional elements of music. Grime functions differently in this way, it’s one of the few dance genres that is made with an MC in mind; it wasn’t made to move bodies the weekend long in Berghain. The aching, melancholic melodies of Ruff Sqwad’s “Anna” and “Functions on the Low“, Rebound X’s “Rhythm ‘n’ Gash” or Kamikaze’s “Ghetto Kyote” bleed into the mind, dwelling in its coldest corners. As Ruff Sqwad’s Dirty Danger says, “no one else knew how to put melodies in such dark music.” Spooky invades the melody receptors in a similar manner, his method, however, is attrition warfare rather than seductive gloominess. His tracks are assaults on the body, templated meditations on rhythm and melody, on the pure and simple power of repetition and a restrained sonic palette.
Spooky’s 2006 “Party Package” is full of beats that are abrasively radiant, infectiously melodic and bursting apart with raw energy. Amongst the 35 tracks, what really stand out are the brutally vibrant refixes, in which RnB (Missy Elliott, Rihanna and Alicia Keys), hip-hop (50 Cent, Ludacris and Young Jeezy) and classic grime (Wiley, Young Dot and Jammer) mutate into a barrage of bittersweet intensity. Spooky’s melodies, looped in militant structure, create merciless, punishing tracks that cut between head-nod halftime and a crushing double-time skip. This all coalesces under the umbrella of one ultra-saturated, fluorescent sound facilitated in part, on the refixes especially, by the incorporation of non-synthetic samples. Flutes, horns, entire orchestras fill out a relatively barren sonic landscape. I think, for Spooky, the phrase ‘magnum joy’ sums things up pretty well – simultaneously violent and blissful and, like all great hardcore, sitting on the fence between sorrow and ecstasy.
Highlights of the bunch include “Lovin That You Want Refix”, a jangley summer jam driven by huge, crunchy snares that flips between a dubby halftime and doubletime that’ll get you strutting down your street in pure bliss. Plastic Gype Riddim Refix’s whirlwind flutes are married with a delirious shoot-out between pistol cracks and shotgun blowouts. “Styles and Jada Refix” is a complete torture track, the strings are laceratingly sweet and sugary, the crash cymbal exhausting, the stutter unnerving yet surprisingly groovy. Night Slugs have picked up this vibe particularly well, Bok Bok recently talked about “MJT” in the ‘torture track’ context (and also originally tipped us off about the party packages), but tracks like “New York” and “Her” maintain a similar burning brightness. There’s plenty of pressure outside of the refixes as well, “Magnum Joy” relishes in a wash of reverb, the warm remnants of valve-amp hum, and hits just as hard, while “Pulse Eskimo” works a darker, eski flex (NB: Zomby nicely paired this track with M.I.A.’s “Bird Flu”). If you’re into grime, this collection may be nothing new, but if you’re not, be prepared for some raw as hell beats backed up by a lush ear for melody. A fetish for gun shots might help as well.