Thursday, 4 February 2010

DVA - Natty/Ganja [Hyperdub]

Already the definition of a ‘buy on sight’ label, last year was an upping of the ante for Hyperdub. Quite aside from the heady list of seperate 12”s – crunked up stylings from Mark Pritchard and Joker, the double pronged grimewave of Cooly G’s ‘Narst’ and Kode9’s ‘Black Sun’ – ending 2009 with the 5 Years Of Hyperdub compilation was sufficient to consolidate exactly how influential Kode9’s label continues to be. But refreshingly enough, in this case the term ‘influential’ doesn’t have to indicate any level of beard strokery – it’s all visceral stuff, making groove and physicality as much a priority as emotional impact.

On the evidence of Kode9’s studio session on Gilles Peterson’s Radio 1 show last week, this year might just go one better. He bookended the show with his own unfinished dubs - the Spaceape-featuring ‘Other Man’ particularly spectacular, even in its embryonic form a synth-driven monster sharing its mutant DNA with ‘2 Far Gone’ and ‘Oozi’. By April we’re also due new material from Kyle Hall, Ikonika and Terror Danjah, whose upcoming 12” pulls together a pair of incendiary slabs of instrumental grime.

Meanwhile, as an opening gambit for 2010, Rinse’s own hyperactive breakfast host Scratcha DVA has put together a pair of bizarre and brilliant future house-not-house riddims. While the best products of the funky explosion thus far have worn their grime influences overtly – the clipped chords and driving energy of the likes of Cooly G and Roska – DVA takes his background in the genre and subverts it entirely. Stripped back to its bare essentials, ‘Natty’ sounds like nothing else out there. Its only touchstones are the percussion’s implied bounce and warping bursts of eski bass while a vague hint of tropical melody seems to stand out in hyperreality, lurching back and forth in a fug of overcaffeinated nausea. It’s heady stuff, the kind of track that forces a dancefloor to reassess its motion from the ground up.

Hitting the cough syrup hard, ‘Ganja’ is more direct and almost painfully insistent, some distant and sickly cousin to the cartoon kwaito of Mujava’s ‘Township Funk’. The most immediately pleasing aspect of funky’s emergence has been a loosening of percussive rigidity – there’s none of grime’s spasmodic kick-snare whipcrack or dubstep’s happy halfstep rut here. Instead, held in check by house’s mandatory offbeat hi-hat, DVA sends tendrils of Afrobeat percussion off in wildly divergent directions, hinting at the wild possibility of a thousand new drum patterns still to be discovered.

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