Benga – Phaze One review

Oh Benga. Where do we begin? Emerging from the depths of Croydon in the early noughties, Benga has been a pioneer and pivotal lynchpin in the ever-burgeoning dubstep movement. His previous albums, Newstep (2006) and Diary Of An Afro Warrior (2008) remain amongst the most influential long players of the genre’s history, alongside commercial crossover collab with Coki, “Night” (2007) and a slew of other high profile releases, mixes and remixes on labels such as Tempa, Tectonic, Hotflush and Planet Mu. Firmly cementing his reputation as one of the scene’s most pre-eminent figures, Benga brings us “Phaze One” – the first in a series of EPs on the seminal Tempa imprint.

Bookmarked by the delightfully named “Baltimore Clap” and “No Bra, No Panties” (that is, if you’re getting this on digital release, otherwise “Rock Music” will be your closing track), the EP kicks off with jittering, dark riddims and aggressive slapstick, breathy tones. Delicious mouse squeaks are interspersed in the otherwise rather industrial tinged piece. Progressing via the slow, walloping, 140bpm massive “Eye Tunes,” through sonically raindrop splattered piece “Mini Motor Cross” with its grating, grinding synths and crisp drums, to “808” – a frenetic, beat dripping work out on a distinctly awkward, tense stabbing tip, it’s a fantastic cross-section of sounds from the wunderkind that is Benga. “Your Band (Descending)” is reminiscent of “Night,” with its wailing Dalek drones and grouchy b-line – a sure fire hit on the dancefloor roller front. All change for the climactic military tinged, ancient warrior-commencing-for-battle style intro of “Rock Music,” replete with ominous horns, nervous chiming and gritty bass action. As digital bonuses, “Transform” – another bleepy bad one, and the aforementioned cheeky sampling, dancehall-esque “No Bra, No Panties” – conclude the EP with a resounding two fingers in the face. Great stuff.

Review: Belinda Rowse