Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Apple Pips

Unusually for a label that has often left fairly long waits between releases, in the last couple of weeks Appleblim’s label Apple Pips has put out not just one but two excellent new 12”s from opposite cutting edges of the UK bass scene.

Since the emergence of the Skull Disco and Hessle Audio labels respectively, Appleblim and Ramadanman have steadily put out a stream of quality releases, loosely falling under the umbrella of techno-influenced dubstep; ‘blim’s Dubstep Allstars Vol. 6 was a compelling document that tied together under a shared aesthetic a host of disparate producers from the UK and beyond. Hot on the heels of the release on Aus Music of ‘Sous Le Sable’, the first track from their studio sessions together, the most recent Apple Pips brings to light a second collaboration, which in contrast to the slow-burning house of their first release sees them return to usual dubstep tempo and an edgier, more restless mood. Wearing its techno influences more visibly, ‘Justify’ is underpinned throughout by a looped, cascading melody and brittle halfstep beat even as the second section buckles under a shower of metallic synth. Yet despite the obvious differences between the two tracks, there is a shared link in compositional style; both are extended mood pieces comprised of several sections linked thematically rather than overtly, and the complexity and skill of the duo’s production ensures they are as well suited to headphone listens as the dancefloor.

By way of contrast, Brackles’ eagerly awaited ‘Get A Job’ is as dancefloor-ready as they come. As a regular DJ in and around London, he has a ferocious reputation for rapid-fire mixing and high energy sets – despite playing the opening slot he pretty much tore the roof off when I saw him at the Apple Pips showcase in April – and both tracks here have been justifiably appearing in DJ sets and shows on Rinse for a few months. Which does little to dull their impact; both ‘Get A Job’ and ‘Lizards’ are synth-driven monsters, inextricably linked to the group of DJs and producers (along with people like Brackles’ brother Martin Kemp, Oneman and Geiom) who are currently pushing to fuse some of the more thoughtful and subtle aspects of dubstep to the tribal swing of funky and two-step, and in doing so drag it away from the increasingly testosterone-fuelled ‘wobble’ scene. In the same week that saw the release of Kemp’s ‘No Charisma’ and a second Brackles 12” on Planet Mu (‘LHC’, which might just be the best thing he’s ever done), the line between dubstep, funky and garage is becoming ever more blurred; and the music emergent from this cross pollination is more exciting to me than that of any other niche at the moment.

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