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Kowton – Dirty Little Bomb review

For the past two years or so Kowton has been one of the producers at the forefront of the gradual movement of Bristol’s bass scene into the exploration of house. His stripped back productions are often fairly devoid of melody, but “Dirty Little Bomb” occupies a particularly murky zone that pushes the extremes of his template further still.

The track’s modest 108bpm speed is slower than anything Kowton has produced before; in taking it down to this level he provides the bass tones with considerable breathing room, with the LFO modulation that provides the track’s main hook adding a nice bit of lift to what may otherwise become a trudge. But it’s the distorted, bit-crushed hi-hats and snares which give the track its real textural focus, with their abrasive wire-wool tones providing enough shock to prevent the comparatively cushioned surrounds of the track, along with its samples that evoke dusty hypnagogic memories of black and white films, from becoming lethargic. It’s an effect that’s difficult to achieve at this speed, but Kowton manages it admirably.

The real masterstroke on this release however is the remix from techno producer Rivet, whose recent singles on Naked Index have impressed with their industrial take on warehouse techno and bass. Rivet’s remix manages to straddle the divide between these two genres with confidence similar to Untold’s recent “Little Things Like That” on Clone’s Basement Series. At 128bpm it’s incredible that he has managed to extract any of the original’s essence, but despite their relatively different approaches, Kowton and Rivet both share an excellent understanding of negative space; by isolating the shattered-glass percussion and breathy vocals, and recomposing them alongside Berghain sized synth stabs and a warbling bass drop, Rivet creates an absolute monster of a track which is utterly deranged, yet somehow retains the more introspective, darker corners of the original.

Scott Wilson