Of the many trajectories along which post-garage sounds are traveling, there’s one in particular which is rapidly marking itself out from the others in its sheer, slavish devotion to shockingly bright melody and soca-infused funky beats. Despite her own productions’ often thoughtful and subtle nature, Ikonika is probably the best example of a DJ pulling out all the stops in this direction – her recent sets have flitted between genres with seeming ease, unhesitatingly flirting with the boundaries of excess and in doing so becoming thrilling exercises in how to work a packed floor. Her recent set for Resonance FM, available to stream on Soundcloud, functions as an impressive summary of where this strain of dubstep is at now – and includes, amongst others, Brackles’ mind-bendingly brilliant remix of Crystal Fighters’ ‘I Love London’.
The Other Woman featuring DJ Ikonika by ruthbarnes
Mix starts about halfway through
The epicentre of the group of producers actually making this material though seems to be focused on the Blunted Robots/Berkane Sol axis – Brackles, Shortstuff, Martin Kemp and Nottingham relations Geiom and Spam Chop. All are impressive DJ/producers in their own right, but some of their most exciting material is emerging from collaborations – Shortstuff in particular, whose ‘Tripped Up’ with Mickey Pearce was a highlight of Ramadanman’s recent Dubstep Allstars mix. Arriving with surprisingly little fanfare, Planet Mu’s latest contains the products of his work with Geiom, a pair of tracks that together constitute both his most dancefloor-ready and most musically progressive material yet.
To a certain extent it’s possible to detect the roles of each producer in the making of ‘No Hand Signals’ – the impossibly busy beat structure and schizophrenic dynamics are pure Shortstuff, yet Geiom’s composer’s ear and recent experiments at house tempo lend the track both longevity and a metronomic bounce that belies the complexity of its percussion. It’s also fantastic, seething with cartoonish energy and swung UK funky rhythms.
‘Wardenclyffe’ is the real gem here though, an aggressively melancholy garage skip that drifts along on gorgeous wisps of oriental synth melody. A minute or so in the track suddenly shifts gear, opening wide to allow a devastating descending breakdown to take over for a precious few seconds before kicking off at full pace once more. It manages the tough feat of being both a wonder to listen to on headphones and an absolute dancefloor bomb, and also happens to be one of the most spectacular tracks I’ve heard all year.