Recommended: Samrai – Riddim Trax EP

At the heart of Swing Ting, a Manchester-based collective whose core members curate nights, deejay at night and create music, sit Deejay Samrai and Platt. The duo came together initially to form a function where they could play out a diverse range of bass-driven tracks, non-ironically, to a crowd of slaves to the rhythm. Since its birth in 2008, the crew has since garnered the most apt residents for their monthly parties, including Murlo and Joey B. As well as promoting and playing out, the pair has also released a splattering of tracks, including “Head Gone“, which features one of our favourite vocal hooks by Mr Fox (one that Murlo later twisted into this bombastic number). So evidently, within Swing Ting, there is a steadfast dedication to diversity and dancefloor, which provides the context needed to appreciate Samrai’s neat, four-track debut solo release: Riddim Trax.

Stream: Samrai – Let It Ride featuring Mr Fox (Niche ‘N’ Bump)

The clue’s in the name: the priority here is rhythm. This is of course expected of the label, Niche ‘N’ Bump, which has always remained faithful to UK funky in its output. The record opens with “Let It Ride”, wherein a rumba-style beat gurgles and Mr Fox sings, soothing, “Music’s flowing, yeah yeah… Got me going, crazy…” This is not breakthrough lyricism but that’s the point. In true singjay style, Fox weaves another layer into the track’s soft, skippy rhythmical texture. The second, and final, number on the A-side is “Responsibility Riddim”. It’s an instrumental version of the previous track – again, proof of Samrai’s club-driven ethic. But its placement straight after the vocal mix is interesting because, in a clever bit of foreshadowing, it lets the listener know that the mood shifts when the record’s flipped. 

If the A-side is all bloom and breeze, the B-side is shards of ice and tarmac. In “Problematic Riddim”, four to the floor, militant snares march you onwards until you reach a contrastingly giggly climax, its trembling synths reminiscent of a Sega level-up skit. Samrai continues to tease us; starry bursts dissipate as soon as they arrive. Things take a step even more left of centre in the finale, “Concrete Riddim”, when we are exposed to the producer’s most angular, spasming track yet. Muted drum sounds are stalked by prolonged, alien synths while some weird speech is muffled at the back; a plate of sounds that’ll have drum and bass heads licking their lips. Bashment in groove but grimier in tone, it is a brutally and beautifully contorted track. But the regular “hey[s]!” keep you stomping. And that’s the goal.

Stream: Samrai – Concrete Riddim (Niche ‘N’ Bump)


Erin Mathias