“Sounds and scenes are cyclical, as much a re-action as an action, and so the further the colour intensifies the more interesting an absence of light feels fresh again.” Blackdown, July 2012
The London based duo Dusk + Blackdown have long been a touchstone for evolution in London/UK-based electronic music with their label Keysound Recordings and their Rinse show. Over the past two years both avenues seemingly aligned in an effort to throw their support around what seems to be a genuine movement towards the darker and somewhat sparser sounds of grime, garage and UK Funky. At the centre of this is a cluster of producers, namely Beneath, Logos, Visionist and Wen. It’s the last name on that list who has garnered a lot of attention of late with an appearance at Fabric in November at the Keysound takeover, and the surfacing of his strong initial releases. The first of these was “Hydraulics”, a collaboration with Epoch on Egyptian Avenue, and most recently “Lo-Fidelity/Take Over” on the newly formed South Fork Sound label. Despite Wen’s presence amongst the Keysound stable throughout 2012, it’s only now in early 2013 that we see his debut on the imprint. It has however been a worthwhile wait as this one happens to be one of their finest releases in their long-standing history.
Stream: Wen – Commotion (Keysound Recordings)
Wen’s productions aren’t exactly garage, grime or even dubstep despite the presence of all these sounds in his productions. They could be considered a dubbed-out exploration of all – but they all possess that instantly recognisable UK Sound, the same sound that seems to be tirelessly ever-evolving, constantly deconstructing itself in the effort of reinvention, adding to/and furthering the underground continuum. It’s that creativity that fills Wen’s productions – the ability to turn what seems so tangibly nostalgic into something that is becoming so distinctly his. Particularly in this release, grime’s influence is at the forefront and ever-present throughout the EP in the form of prominent vocal samples of Dot Rotten, Wiley and Trim. They instantly become the centrepiece and the most notable element of each track as soon as they appear – somewhat surprisingly perhaps when you consider how they are so sparsely used in comparison to their source. Every utterance meets the production with excitement and sparks it up, accentuating each movement. Similarly his use of percussion keeps an unusual space which vividly paints the elements between the gaps with an eerie stroke allowing all layers to breathe. It’s these elements throughout that provide an unusual air that flows through the whole of the EP, tying each track to the next. The record becomes a joyride taking you through the different hues of darkness that only London brings. It’s in these cold and stark soundscapes where the real colour is found.
Stream: Wen – Road (Keysound Recordings)
Wen’s Commotion EP is available now on Keysound Recordings.
BONUS: Keysound Recordings compilation named “This Is How We Roll” set for release 25th March features the “Commotion VIP“, a track has recently gained a life of it’s own after DJ Barely Legal got Wiley, Scratchy, Riko Dan and God’s Gift all on the riddim. Check it out below.
Stream: Wen – Commotion VIP (Keysound Recordings)