Well, I for one certainly hadn’t been acquainted with juke before this little beast reared its head, and the concept remains pretty alien as it’s nightmarishly difficult to track down any real releases. It’s quite fitting then, given the catch-all nature of ‘dubstep’ at the moment, that the first real exposure a large chunk of the UK will have to juke is via the medium of a Bristol producer. Tony Williams, the man more commonly known as Headhunter, has been on a roll of form lately – since his debut album Nomad there have been collaborations with F, remixes from Modeselektor and a couple of killer limited 12”s on Tempa – but in true shapeshifting fashion, the best thing he’s yet come out with has been released under the Addison Groove pseudonym.
‘Footcrab’ has been doing the rounds for a while, and for all its gonzo charms, it’s quite an unusual track to have achieved its status as a mini-anthem – there’s barely anything there. But then that’s most of the fun - along with ‘Dumbshit’ on the flip, the key lies in its devastating simplicity: both tracks consist merely of the repetitive, syncopated kick of an 808, pounding like a headache under churning subs, wispy melody and a chopped vocal mantra. That’s it. Who said dance music had to be complicated? Along with Ikonika’s forthcoming Contact Love Want Have album, which for all its lush textural elements never reaches beyond drums, bass and a couple of synth melody lines, these tracks pare bass music to the bare essentials, and in doing so work against maximalist notions that good music requires complexity. Electronic music production can reach stupidly macho levels of technological one-upmanship, and in doing so runs the risk of losing the levels of raw energy required for club action. Both ‘Footcrab’ and ‘Dumbshit’ sound as though they could have been pieced together in five minutes – and I mean that in the most complimentary way possible.
Still, aspects of Williams’ music as Headhunter audibly creep into his Addison Groove guise. Both tracks still retain a smoky Berlin atmosphere, as stoned dub chords drift hazily in the background behind ‘Footcrab’s irresistible vocal chatter and ‘Dumbshit’ maintains a little of the techno-influenced momentum that marks his older dubstep productions. It’s less a matter of hidden depths – what you see (or hear) is very much what you get in this case – and more that the rougher, live-sounding edges disguise how cleverly put together both tracks are. It’ll be interesting to see how separate Williams keeps these two sides of his personality. Even on this debut release the bleeding edges where both cross over are apparent, just as Pearson Sound’s ‘PLSN’ bore more than a little resemblance to similar Ramadanman material. It would be exciting to hear this spontaneity go a little further.