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Benny Ill & J King – Kosmic 78 review

Benny Ill and J King, both part of the Horsepower Productions collective, follow up their “Damn It/Kingstep” 12″ on Tempa last year and make an outstanding debut on Mala’s genre defining label, Deep Medi Musik. Having grown to prominence since dubstep’s inception in the early noughties, Benny Ill a.k.a Ben Garner has produced under numerous aliases, and his sound is steeped in a dub influenced half step garage vibe, with production partner J King reinforcing the tone, making for some serious bass heavy business.

Heavy dubbed out rhythms and weighty sub bass are certainly in order for A-side “Kosmic 78”. A gentle, rippling intro with snippets from an ominous, film-sampled speech echoing in the textured soundscape gets things off to a ferocious start. A booming, dense and velvety b-line rumbles below the tune. It’s deeply hypnotic and immersive, with the same synaesthestic quality that Joker infamously aligned to his ‘purple wow’, only its not purple, it’s a deep, inky, morphing, oily blackness. Yet it’s not purely bass and thudding drum kicks, there’s delicate SFX dancing around, melodies shimmering above and little pattering drum rolls and cheeky warps from time to time. It’s one of those tracks that bears for re-listening, as you re-discover elements you didn’t notice before.

Similarly, “Lithium Soular” also requires close attention. A lot happens in the first minute alone, before it moves smoothly into the drop – a creepy, cinematic prodding beat, tense, scraping SFX, an oppressive drum kick, a wailing, quasi-operative vocal and whispering vocal warning “it’s out there, don’t move…” Deeply unnerving, a sense of eeriness and foreboding seeps out of every beat here. The vocal stays with the murky, powerful b-line throughout like a ghostly presence and there is an overwhelming supernatural feel to the piece as a whole. This is aptly portrayed in the videos which have been produced to accompany the release – an incredible, cerebral and excellently produced 12” here.

Belinda Rowse