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Boddika/Instra:mental – Grand Prix/Vicodin review

Have bass producers revitalised techno? It might seem like a strange question, but consider the evidence. Cosmin TRG has shifted gradually from dubstep and drum and bass, in the process releasing his best material for Rush Hour and 50 Weapons. Rumours abound that Shifted used to be a D&B producer, and the person behind the mysterious moniker applies a looseness and low end expertise he might well have picked up in his previous incarnation which ensures his current output doesn’t fall foul of rigidity.

To push this argument further, it is also true that the existence of bass music has inspired techno producers to make their grooves more stepping – witness everything from Kalon’s “Born Against” through parts of the Frozen Border catalogue and Peter Van Hoesen’s most recent single, “North 6th”. This ongoing cross-fertilisation is audible on the latest [Naked Lunch] release, a label which more than any other has inadvertently succeeded in muddying the waters (although it has blurred more than the boundaries between bass and techno).

Boddika’s “Grand Prix” bears some resemblance to the current wave of Chicago-inspired tracks – the heavy claps and the underlying acid line are evidence of the author’s interest in that sound – but it’s the woozy bass underscoring the arrangement that really makes it stand out. Accompanied by insidious bleeps and some deft break beats, it’s like a breath of fresh air for those worn out by retro-tribute releases.

It’s not all one-way traffic though, and the label has recruited Skudge to remix Instra:mental’s “Vicodin”. Based on a similar structure to Boddika’s contribution, this time swarming chords rather than the bass that has the requisite effect, as the Swedish duo dive bomb with menacing, swoops. It may not be a game changer, but this release furthers an aesthetic that’s way more interesting than backward-looking techno conservatism – and surely that’s a welcome development.

Richard Brophy