Release Date: 25th June 2021
From a stylistic perspective, all bets are off as modernist bass music bowls forward with its sights on the dance. Over the past three years, J-Shadow has embodied that ethic more than most with a hybridised flex snapping fluidly between lurid grime waveforms, rave-indebted structures and hi-tech sound design. A perfect fit for Sneaker Social Club’s own omnivorous tendencies, then.
Following drops on Super Hexagon, Nous, Comic Sans and Bun The Grid, Shadow lands on Sneaker Social with no less than six shellers packing a potency which has to be heard to be believed. Proceedings start off comparatively mellow with the atmospheric, vocal-laced ‘Fade’ – all cascading breaks and airy pads, before pivoting towards a kind of weightless style sprayed with blaster fire and dislocated snare rushes on ‘Kugelblitz (The Inescapable Rewarp)’. ‘Diffraction’ leans in on grime rudeness, albeit with a flamboyant twist up, before ‘Atlantis’ shakes up the B-side with an aquatic excursion into jungle territory clearly nodding to early Bukem. ‘Particle Horizon’ continues the uptempo charge, but straps starry-eyed arps to the barefaced breakbeat choppage with soul-quaking results. ‘Hibernation (Lumina Falls)’ acts as a kind of mood leveler to round out the EP, but even in these more patient moments the sound palette is vast and dynamic.
At every step, Shadow’s production prowess shines through in glorious technicolour, all shimmering surfaces and molten sonic matter. The degree of detail is frankly staggering, from cascading sample arrays to infinitesimal FX tweaks. His vibrant personality comes through whether he’s tearing it up at 160 or dropping the kicks out altogether, celebrating the eclecticism that embodies modern club music.
a1. J-Shadow - Fade
a2. J-Shadow - Kugelblitz (The Inescapable Rewarp)
a3. J-Shadow - Diffraction
b1. J-Shadow - Atlantis
b2. J-Shadow - Particle Horizon
b3. J-Shadow - Hibernation (Lumina Falls)
Release Date: 11th June 2021
Twisting junglisms into irregular shapes since 2017, Manchester’s pride and joy Alex Lowther-Harris brings Thugwidow to Sneaker Social for a ruff yet refreshing ride through the rave. No doubt his skin in the game reaches back further than his first recorded output, but just trying to get a handle on his released catalogue is work enough. In 2019 alone he released no less than six albums and three EPs, laying down immense slabs of material on tapes as much as wax. As well as coursing through the dense undergrowth of the cassette scene, his 12”s have appeared on labels like Western Lore, Warehouse Rave and Astral Black, and he’s collaborated with Dead Man’s Chest and Bruised Skies.
Make no mistake, this is hardcore-rooted music, but it feels closer in spirit to that ill-defined period before scenes became delineated and tribal. All the ingredients are there, but Lowther-Harris teases them, fires them off at funny angles or flips them on their head. ‘Post Modern Assault Ethics’ maintains a sparse, restrained demeanour throughout even as the diva vocal slices ping endlessly through the mix and the bass wobbles away underneath. ‘Invisible Shell Of Energy’ juggles lesser-spotted breaks through a cloud of downcast pads, only to trip over and open the filter up on the loose and funky bassline at the final stretch. ‘The Sacrifice’ turns the break damage up, but keeps the moody vibe front and centre, and ‘The Voices Beneath The Earth’ wraps things up with a heavy-hearted belter that runs the risk of achieving anthemic status.
For all the snappy programming, crisp edits and artful low end, it’s the pervading sense of emotional depth which makes Thugwidow such a powerful presence in the contemporary jungle scene. Pairing those all-consuming moods with his non-standard structures, you’ve got exactly the kind of renegade we love to carry here at Sneaker.
a1. THUGWIDOW - Post Modern Assault Ethics
a2. THUGWIDOW - Invisible Shell of Energy
b1. THUGWIDOW - The Sacrifice
b2. THUGWIDOW - The Voices Beneath The Earth
Release date: 9th April 2021
By now it’s common knowledge that Etch is one of the brightest sparks working in the field of contemporary breakbeat mangling. The Brighton-based producer has the depth of knowledge about breaks, and the expressive affinity for how to slice and rearrange them, to rank among some of the greats. We’re talking Photek, Paradox, Source Direct levels of drum science here. Of course he’s more than just a break slicer too – look no further than last year’s Strange Days LP on Seagrave for a more widescreen angle on the Etch sound.
Toasting five years since we first carried some of Zak Brashill’s advanced junglisms on Sneaker, and three since his 2018 album Ups & Downs, we’re thrilled to welcome him back for an excursion into the heart of his drumfunk practice. On the A side of this single the sound field is sparse and taut, echoing the stripped-back, minimalistic atmosphere Paradox just brought to SNKR029. All emphasis is on the drums, and the staggering contortions they’re bent into. Where there is additional sonic dressing, it comes in noirish chord drops and distant celestial vapours that add to the palpable sense of tension.
By the contrast the B-side welcomes in a little more human warmth, with a vocal hook on ‘Shadows Passed By’ that calls back to Smith & Mighty’s flip of the Bacharach soul standard ‘Walk On By’, and a collaboration with Luo that trades in blue-tinted vibes and airy diva vocals. In both instances, needlepoint beat programming is still key and an overall sense of restraint guides the composition, lingering in a sustained mood rather than breaking out in excess drama. Etch sounds more accomplished and in control than ever on this 12”, and we’re honoured to be releasing such vital additions to the jungle narrative.
a1. Etch - Tyrant
a2. Etch - Loose In The Asylum
b1. Etch - Shadows Passed By
b2. Etch x Luo - Amygdala
Release Date: 12th February 2021
Leicester producer and Out Of Joint record shop boss 8Ball makes his debut on Sneaker Social Club with the slick 11-tracker 'Eleuis'. His EPs and album on the Grade10 label, which he runs with mates, celebrate the afterparty and are rife in moody atmospherics and post-hardcore references. 'Eleusis' is a perfectly executed contribution to the continuum demonstrating a weightless take on Hardcore and Jungle.
a1. 8Ball - Can't Hold On
a2. 8Ball - Equator
a3. 8Ball - Explain
b1. 8Ball - Kommence
b2. 8Ball - Lifes Lost
b3. 8Ball - Many Shapes
c1. 8Ball - Only Time Will Tell
c2. 8Ball - Planetz
c3. 8Ball - The Moons
d1. 8Ball - Tigers Eye
d2. 8Ball - Trail
Release Date: 26th February 2021
*Copies purchased through the UE store will receive a free full-colour Octa4 sticker printed on PVC plastic with spot-varnish layers*
Following a stellar run of jungle and breakbeat-oriented releases including the foundational Foul Play Origins set and the visionary proto-retro styles of X-Altera, Sneaker Social Club welcome a true master of drum science.
As Paradox and Alaska, Dev Pandya has been setting standards and breaking new ground in breakbeat hardcore, jungle and drum & bass since the dawn of the culture. He was right there at the start of Moving Shadow, has graced seminal labels like Reinforced, Good Looking and Metalheadz and steered his own Paradox Music, Esoteric and Arctic Music as vessels for a huge body of work. Still toting his Amiga for live gigs and putting out bonus 12”s loaded with samples for producers, Pandya’s passionate commitment to the culture is evident in everything he does. Nowhere does that shine through more than in his needlepoint flair for break editing and drum programming – the calling card of the Paradox sound.
It’s a huge honour to host two original Paradox tracks on Sneaker. We’re treated to full-fat Paradox percussion alchemy on “Octa4” as he teases out the intensity around a salvo of dancehall toasting samples, trickling each progressive layer of rhythm into the mix with the patience and poise of a true master. “Proceed” leans on dub techno atmospherics and a taut funk break that occasionally cuts loose into a ride-splashing fill, but once again the message here is one of heads-down restraint. Across both tracks the emphasis is on the fine print – each composed drum hit and subtle shift of FX – while riding deep in a masterfully constructed groove. Proof, if ever it were needed, why Pandya is the king of understated D&B excellence.
a1. Paradox - Octa4
b1. Paradox - Proceed
Release Date: 4th December 2020
The latest drop on Sneaker Social Club comes from D&B standard-bearer Jasper Byrne, aka Sonic. While he’s been active in the scene for over 20 years, in many ways Byrne’s strong artistic identity and omnivorous spread of influences embodies the current rude health of creative D&B. In his refined, detailed and dynamic productions you can hear ideas that reach far beyond playbook genre totems to arrive at something genuinely fresh and unique.
Across his career Byrne has brushed up against some of the most important labels – Metalheadz, Reinforced, V Recordings, Infrared, Hospital, RAM and scores more, as well as operating his own Space Recordings. Finally dropping a debut album last year on the excellent Western Lore, Byrne demonstrated the depth and breadth of Sonic in jaw dropping fashion, and we’re thrilled to be presenting a swift follow-up with Eye of Jupiter.
Byrne’s confident grasp on melody comes to the fore throughout this album, but crucially these phrases, lead lines and hooks are delivered with a subversive slant that surprises and delights in equal measure. The swaying choral tones and MIDI strings on the lead in to “Prince Of Cambridge” land somewhere between Art Of Noise sample-a-delia and new age splendour, offset by the rugged, rolling break. There’s equally a grandiose quality to the organ breakdowns in “Accidental Junglist”, albeit one poured into a blender with echo chamber acrobatics and a generous dose of phaser-based manipulation (calling to mind A Guy Called Gerald’s pioneering work on Black Secret Technology).
Tracks like “The Bells” move into bolder territory still, swerving obvious structures for something altogether more experimental and expressive, all while grounded by harmonic principles and with space to welcome a break when required. The sound design on “20 Yr Riddim” equally reaches beyond the usual confines of D&B to reach a percussion-heavy peak of invention with the capacity to bang as hard as any straight-up track you care to think of.
Even with the space and skill to roam into intriguing pastures, Byrne’s art lies in his ability to make the wildest ideas accessible, and his most accessible tracks still brim with individuality. There’s an immediacy to opening track “Stranded 2019” which draws you in from the off, balancing emotive swoon and a perfectly pitched bleep lick with the rudest, roundest bass and some especially dexterous drum science. That it sounds so easy on the ears and yet so unlike any other tracks in current circulation is all the proof you need that Sonic represents a high watermark for modern drum & bass.
a1. Sonic - Stranded
a2. Sonic - Eastside
b1. Sonic - Prince of Cambridge
b2. Sonic - Accidental Junglist
b3. Sonic - The Bells 2018
c1. Sonic - 20 Yr Riddim
c2. Sonic - 357
d1. Sonic - No Rest (Stealing Voice)
d2. Sonic - Rolling Hills
d3. Sonic - Aila
Release Date: 20th November 2020
Following a jaw-dropping LP on Ghostly International in 2018, multifarious rave authority Tadd Mullinix reanimates his hi-tek junglist guise X-Altera for an EP on Sneaker Social Club. It’s a perfect fit between project and label, as Mullinix exercises his fearsome knowledge and grasp of foundational jungle and drum & bass on an imprint with strong form in the field (from seminal Foul Play works reissued to contemporary cut ups by Dead Man’s Chest, Etch and more).
Rather than straight-up revivalist sounds, as X-Altera Mullinix is more concerned with the original pioneering spirit of early jungle, hardcore and 90s techno. He absorbs and channels the sounds and processes of these influences with a razor-sharp attention to detail, but crucially he stitches his tracks together in a truly idiosyncratic way. Far from linear rollers, the pieces on New Harbinger EP play out more like suites that follow unpredictable paths and take in some stunning scenery en route. Doused in Detroit’s hi-tek soul, chiseled with the avant-garde angles of jungle’s breakbeat science and weaving a tangled narrative to rival a sci-fi epic, it’s a divine blend of rugged and raw rave music that can draw you deep inside and take you far away.
X-Altera is but the latest in a long line of crucial projects from Mullinix, who has been transmitting mind-boggling electronics from Ann Arbor since the late 90s. He’s previously delved into the ruffest ragga jungle with Todd Osborn as Soundmurderer & SK1, dropped devastating acid house bombs as James T Cotton (now steered towards a more focused strain of techno as JTC), delved into EBM and industrial as Charles Manier and helped set a blueprint for leftfield hip hop beats as Dabrye. With an unerring quality barometer matched by his studious knowledge and understanding of rave culture, his work is a continuous gift to many different strains of dance music.
In many ways X-Altera feels like the logical summation of all Mullinix’s prior investigations; unrepentantly futuristic music sporting the best qualities of the past, clad in proudly ‘ardcore body armour and thus ticking every box going for Sneaker Social Club.
a1. X-Altera - Maximum (Love Eachother)
b1. X-Altera - New Harbinger
b2. X-Altera - Ribbon on a Bomb
Release Date: 6th November 2020
Hardcore has survived three decades. Will it never die? Mutate to survive, as the saying goes. There were outliers back then who remain misfits now, and it’s hard to tell whether what they’re making now is so different to what they were making then. Maybe the machines are slightly smarter, but they just find ways to rough the sound up elsewhere in the signal chain. What rings true is the sound hasn’t aged – in the right hands it still jabs at the frontal lobe and tickles the pleasure receptors with ferocious precision.
If anything the passing of time has only helped filter out the filler. True ‘ardcore evangelists have had longer to ruminate on the sound – what maximises the potency, what dulls the impact. Tempo and aggression are not the only tools to devastate a dancer – they rushed in an upward curve for years, to dubious ends. Now you might as likely be rolling at a sedantry 130 as tearing your face off at 180.
The clattering of breaks remain an imperfect vessel for these weird juxtapositions. There’s no standard backbone, no unanimous groove. Depending on the angle of the edit, the same two boom-baps can come out looking so different as to be unrelated. There might not even be any original breaks left in there. An amen begat a tramen begat the sound of a chair being thrown down the stairs. The pool of cultural codes remains open and accessible though – the call of the loom bird is not off limits, and neither are any of the unlicensed licks that hit the streets on the first sample CDs. Make the tune hot enough, you can use what you like.
Of course tired snobbery prevails amongst revivalists who would sneer at anything made after 1996 (or 1994, or 1992 – choose your flavour), but as a cultural movement hardcore (and its many wayward offspring) is as inclusive as it’s ever been. It’s about the joy of splicing, bricolage, the cheeky punt that leads to something profound. But more importantly, it’s about the culture of those who made it – an honest expression of the times, which go in cycles outside the sound not dissimilar to the ones within it.
e1. Horsepower Productions - DREAMWITHINADREAM Pt.2
e2. Ashford Knights - Sinkhole
f1. SHD - Drop
f2. Interplanetary Criminal - Loss of Self Identity
f3. Soundbwoy Killah - Something Special
g1. Konx-om-Pax - Shibuya Sunset (Hardcore Mix)
g2. Appleblim - Limbic Riddim
g3. Coco Bryce - One
h1. Dead Man's Chest x Sonic - Sneaker Rhythm
h2. Hooverian Blur ft. Slarta John - Highgrade Music
h3. Anz - Rave Casual
Release Date: 9th October 2020
Is this the sound of the future or fragments of the past coming back to haunt us? Is a remix of a classic thirty years after the fact an exercise in hauntology or a time loop closing? When hardcore came bowling out of the UK underground, it was sci-fi postulating rendered on wax, but it also reflected an inescapable reality at street level. Idealist, escapologist music that said as much about decades of inner city pressure as it did about outer space fantasies. A sweet refrain underpinned by a necessary ruffness, the elegant ballet of a break dissected 16 different ways over 16 bars, the protest pulse of the subs carrying the torch from one soundsystem culture to another.
What hardcore successfully struck on was so definably alien it set a new paradigm which has been cast back and forth in dialogue ever since. Whole scenes have risen and receded around these principles, and the constant remains – masses of bass carrying angular rhythms, unnerving echo chambers of disembodied voices and moments of staggering beauty and masterful ugliness. These principles have a universal appeal that burns bright generation to generation, never seemingly diminishing but rather fortifying with time. Sometimes a surge of inspiration finds the principles reinterpreted in head-spinning new ways, but the ethic remains the same.
Those shaky, intrepid years of lo-fi samplers and narrow band broadcasts were defined by their lack of definition. Take a punt on a rare groove lick and work out how to get the low end louder. Then everything got organised – in the face of mass appeal scenes started splintering and preferences catered to. It may not have been a force for unity, but it engendered more intensive investigation. Years of scenes, styles, subgenres, niches, furrows, corridors, avenues, detours, each more hyper-specific than the last. Eventually though, everything breaks down so much it all becomes one mass again – a constant cross-contamination between these intensely cultivated strains, creating ever more potent hybrids that simply feed back into the temporal swirl.
a1. SK-1 - Shockout Fass (X-Altera remix)
a2. Etch - Monoxide
b1. ZULI - 3ankaboot
b2. Manix - Special Request (DJ Guy version)
b3. ELLLL - Sooty Tern
c1. Peder Mannerfelt - Small Faces
c2. Christoph De Babalon - Where Are You Going?
c3. DJ Butterfly - Shorty
d1. Clouds - Can't Anticipate
d2. Forest Drive West - Para
d3. Dream Cycle - ESP
Release Date: 21st August 2020
Basic Rhythm returns to Sneaker Social Club with new EP "I Don't Know What I Would Do". A side opener, What I Would Do, starts with a stepping percussive melody line and sampled vocal before dropping into a 4/4 stomp and warm bassline, drawing upon Detroit Techno of old in his own inimitable style. The second track, I Just Don't Know, opens with lush keys and female vocal refrain of "I just don't..." gradually building up the percussive elements until dropping into his trademark percussion and sub bass work out.
The B side opens with Annihilate. Worn out pads and sparse percussive stabs gradually open up and make way for a slow build up before dropping into a gritty bass line that stumbles headlong into clattering percussion and the unmistakable howl of Grace Jones as the vocals switch and pan and swirl into a disorienting haze. Closing the EP is Plodding Along, a slow yet upbeat vibe pervades the track, with Basic Rhythm's trademark percussion and a happy go lucky bass line that lilts along content to exist in its own world.
a1. Basic Rhythm - What I Would Do
a2. Basic Rhythm - I Just Don't Know
b1. Basic Rhythm - Annihilate
b2. Basic Rhythm - Plodding Along
Repress Due: 21st August 2020
From the slamming science of “Ricochet,” through the jittery ghost-rave of “Survival” and the outer-space lover’s rock of “Dubbing You,” to the manic magic of “Finest Illusion,” this collection of early EPs by rave legends Foul Play tracks an astonishing evolution across barely more than a year. Some of the top tunes to come out of the hardcore > jungle > drum & bass journey? Yes, but also some of the most thrilling and gorgeous music of the entire ‘90s.
Simon Reynolds, author of Energy Flash: A Journey Through Rave Music and Dance Culture.
Re-mastered by Beau Thomas of Ten Eight Seven Mastering and re-issued for your aural pleasure. Don't sleep on this one!
a1. Foul Play - Finest Illusion
a2. Foul Play - Survival
b1. Foul Play - Dubbing You
b2. Foul Play - The Alchemist
c1. Foul Play - Feel The Vibe
c2. Foul Play - Feel The Vibe (Again)
c3. Foul Play - Screwface
d1. Foul Play - Ricochet
d2. Foul Play - Ricochet (No Stopping The Remix)
d3. Foul Play - Ragatere
Repress Release Date: 7th August 2020
Ben UFO b2b Joy O Recorded at XOYO in August
Kaiya at 8:08
begging for the ID on this one
typographic at 8:36
What's this? Absolute Weapon!!!!
emilyrachelwatson at 8:36
@typographic: init! fuckingneeeeed this!!!
Jinny Spinner at 8:36
@typographic: also looking for this ID
Ressika at 8:36
@niykov: this is a very silly song and I also require the ID
rohan at 8:49
christ, id on this one?
alexcelac at 9:40
salute at 10:29
what the fuck is this tune?
nikolai at 10:37
tundra at 10:49
ressika at 10:56
JLT at 11:21
Excelente. [bomb emoji]
a1. Hooverian Blur - Old Gold
b1. Hooverian Blur - Eyes Closed
b2. Hooverian Blur - Laluviah
Release Date: 13th December 2019
"Eski style Hardcore reductions, served up from the rave archivist Filter Dread."
a1. Filter Dread - Ice B8ss
a2. Filter Dread - Space Conga
a3. Filter Dread - Time To Let Go
a4. Filter Dread - Heat Depth
b1. Filter Dread - Ice Rave
b2. Filter Dread - Crush Sphere
b3. Filter Dread - Tekker Wave
b4. Filter Dread - Afterlife
Release Date: 22nd November 2019
The latest transmission from Sneaker Social Club welcomes Low End Activist into the fold for a record that draws heavily on soundsystem culture and in particular its social function in the Afro-Caribbean communities it stemmed from.
The source material for this record of fractured bass pressure is a VHS recording of Muzikon Sound System, captured in 1988 on the Blackbird Leys estate in Oxford, UK. The vibe pours out of the scenes captured – it was a famously hot summer, and Earthy Irie’s crew set their rig up at the Blackbird Leys summer fair, gifting the community with a wall of sound blasting out ruff n’ tuff 80s dancehall while the local deejays toasted over the top. Elsewhere Street Level would have had their system set up playing UK Soul, Hip-Hop, Proto Rave and Acid House, while further down the field (known locally as ‘the wreck’) the annual five-a-side football tournament took place.
The fair was a symbol of the unity of the estate – a multi-ethnic working class community bound together both by the looming presence of the car factory (where a massive portion of the residents worked) but also the long simmering social divide in Oxford. Since the founding of Oxford University, the country’s elite have needed people to do their dirty work, predictably exploiting and marginalising them in the process. As the city and its colleges expanded, so these communities were ushered out of town. The tensions between the classes reached a flash point repeatedly throughout the centuries, and it was no different during the 1991 riots on
the Blackbird Leys estate. As with similar riots elsewhere in Britain – Brixton, St Pauls, Toxteth, and elsewhere – heavy handed, not to mention misguided, police tactics loom large in the story, where the elite and the authorities fail to understand the community, how and why it functions the way it does.
Drawing on this snapshot of Oxford life, far from the international facade of the city’s privilege and power, with a deep-rooted, personal perspective, Low End Activist channels the raw energy and expression of Muzikon’s sound and frames it in the dread bass pressure that such soundsystems directly led to. It’s not dark music, but rather an intense one, defiant and proud like the Blackbird Leys community and so many of the social situations that gave rise to rave culture in the late 80s and early 90s.
The people from the estate would take their skill, knowledge and access to ‘the factory’ and use it to joyride high-end sports cars – a celebration of personal liberty in the face of social barriers enforced by the very people who would buy such things. Now Low End Activist applies his own craft to an amazing artefact from decades past, not so much joyriding with it as respectfully doffing his cap to the community in a show of solidarity, letting the jubilant sound play out once more
a1. Low End Activist - Street Level
a2. Low End Activist - Signal To Noise (Ratio)
a3. Low End Activist - Signal To Noise
b1. Low End Activist - Low End Activism
b2. Low End Activist - Neighbourhood Nationalism
b3. Low End Activist - Muzikon 90
Release Date: 18th October 2019
Dream Cycle returns for the third instalment in his series of EPs on Sneaker Social Club. 4 tracks cover a range of moods from the tough, club ready 2 step on “Told You” to the slo-mo ambient throb of “Untitled Dream”.DJ Support
Dusky, Deadboy, Breaka, Changsie, Barely Legal, LMajor, Foul Play, Jackie House, Jossy Mitsu, Kate Miller, Etch, Kornel Kovacs, Coco Bryce, Delfonic, Octo Octa, Avalon Emerson, Silvia Kastel, FaltyDL, Ciel, Gigsta, 2 Bad Mice, Etch, Kornel Kovacs, Coco Bryce, Michael Serafini, Chris Farrell (Idle Hands), Interplanetary Criminal, Turbojazz, Molly, Alec Falconer, Vera, Raresh, Edmondson, DJ Fart In The Club, Re:ni, Rey Colino (Kalahari Oyster Cult), Banoffee Pies + more
a1. Dream Cycle - Told You
a2. Dream Cycle - Long Time
b1. Dream Cycle - Sensa
b2. Dream Cycle - Untitled Dream
Release Date - 23rd August 2019
Through a misty, nostalgic lens of long days and nights lost in front of sound systems, Soundbwoy Killah delivers his much anticipated debut album to Sneaker Social Club. True to previous drops on this and other labels, this is rave romanticism with a bite, as much viewing the good old days with a wry smile as longing for their return. Just listen to the opening strains of “Escape Velocity,” as the MC manages a sticky situation and tries to keep cool while sending the crowd on their way “in an orderly fashion.”
As much as hardcore, jungle, acid, techno and house inform Halcyon Daze, the sonic signifiers of that ‘golden era’ of rave culture are bedded in a poignant, reflective shroud. From lingering pads to distant, reverb drenched vocal snatches, a hint of melancholy hovers over these scattered but vivid memory triggers. Reese bass has never reverberated so deep, sirens never sounded so lost at sea.
The real art in Soundbwoy Killah’s craft lies in the juxtaposition between these languid, introspective elements and bright, sharply rendered arcs of sound that bring the music right into the foreground. This isn’t a pure exercise in nostalgia – stripped of their aggressive armour plating, a lot of these familiar elements take on a new expressive identity. Whether it’s the strafing arps in “Tom Loves To Rave,” or softly nudging the rolling breaks of “Under The Influence” into a downtempo, chill-out room headspace, Halcyon Daze proves how much mileage there still is in these battle-scarred sonic tools.
It’s not all one-dimensionally downcast either – “Heartbeats” is a rude n’ ruff celebration of amen choppage, while “Wanna Hold U” channels the ghost of UK garage with one eye cast back to its US house roots. “All Night Long” finishes the record on a charging high, all tightly clipped tech step beats and bright synths that cast their gaze ahead with optimism. The themes of lost love and fuzzy memories echo throughout Halcyon Daze, but rather than wallowing in the past, this open-ended finishing move springs forward with purpose. One gets the feeling there’s plenty more to come from Soundbwoy Killah.
a1. Soundbwoy Killah - Escape Velocity
a2. Soundbwoy Killah - Pang
a3. Soundbwoy Killah - Tom Loves To Rave
b1. Soundbwoy Killah - Wanna Hold U
b2. Soundbwoy Killah - Under The Influence
c1. Soundbwoy Killah - Heartbeats
c2. Soundbwoy Killah - Loiner Dub
c3. Soundbwoy Killah - Halcyon Daze
d1. Soundbwoy Killah - Yours (Break Mix)
d2. Soundbwoy Killah - All Night Long