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Skudge – First Observations review

It would have been difficult to imagine an act as talented as Skudge indefinitely following the approach of their first few EPs. Indeed, as the Swedish duo told Juno Plus in our exclusive interview with them a few months back, their influences and more importantly, their ambitions stretch further than Basic Channel dub techno.

That said, “Surplus” doesn’t mark a radical change in style, nor does it herald an artistic volte face from the pair. What it does achieve rather craftily, however, is to subtly push the Skudge sound towards a more wide-ranging place. The same chugging, loopy groove is at is centre, but the use of uplifting 90s techno chords and celebratory rave whistles underscore the pair’s deep knowledge of and passion for electronic music’s recent past. “Void” is more closely aligned to modern day sounds as its insistent keys build to an acid-tinged, filtered climax. It’s Skudge’s most accessible track to date and it is likely to appeal to DJs who so far have not played their releases.

However, it is unlikely that Skudge will become the preserve of big-room house, something that is reinforced by the remix of “Void”. Ironically, Conforce’s version is the track most in keeping with the duo’s original approach. Based on robust, dubby beats and powered by driving hats, the sick, underlying acid line is a reminder that Skudge’s roots are still firmly planted in the underground.

Richard Brophy