Kowton – Keep Walking review

Steadily becoming one of the deadliest weapons in Bristol’s expansive arsenal, Kowton doesn’t seem in a rush to get his material out there, letting the impact of his formative releases on Idle Hands and Keysound gently ripple out to a hushed acclaim from the keen eared. This policy is a neat match with Irish imprint [Naked Lunch], which, under the stewardship of Micky Mara, has maintained a release schedule unencumbered by the restraints of riding the zeitgeist. Like many artists moving in similar circles, Kowton has achieved some kind of affiliation to dubstep (partly down to his earlier releases as Narcossist), when in fact his music comes from a refined, contemplative outbuilding of house music.

This release serves as something of a definitive stance between house and garage dynamics. Where Kowton’s earlier tracks were draped in sinister drones and melodic absences, the A-Side “Keep Walking” grooves along with a positively content, Metro Area kind of cheekiness. The beats fall smooth and steady, the bass plucks away and the pads swell in and out of the mix with elegant poise. It’s not an overtly happy track, but rather sits in a kind of emotional ambiguity that matches minor notes with an overall upbeat party feeling.

“Show Me” plumbs a steppier duct, keeping the beats in charge for a good half of the track as a house tempo gets invaded by skipping claps and hats. It’s not until the aqueous synth washes in that any light is shed in the oppressive gloom that Kowton has a real knack for creating. The hushed female snippet of, “c’mon,” only adds to the creepiness, seemingly inviting you to a place you know you probably shouldn’t go to, but want to visit all the same.

Oli Warwick