Daojia – Riego Street review

It’s safe to say we’re not short of a record label or two these days, but inevitably with quantity comes a great deal of filler. The whole idea of an imprint varies from person to person; to some it’s a mere vessel for transporting an artist’s wares, to others it’s an artistic statement as strong as the music contained within.  For this writer though, a real record label is an idea to be bought into, where the instantly identifiable packaging and canny curation create an addictive end product that rewards the faithful explorer. There’s no greater feeling as a music hunter than following the thread of a choice record that leads to a pristinely managed label, revealing a back catalogue rich in unfamiliar gems.

While it may only be five releases old, Awkward Movements is already showing some admirable credentials as a label proper. Dodging the easy option of hustling for big names, instead the imprint has commenced its activities with relative unknowns of an unusual nature within the wider UK dubstep etc. fraternity, and only with the last release by Chairman Kato did they start to showcase some of the other music that makes them tick. Their choice of remixers spoke volumes for their philosophy, pitting the smooth Detroit house of Andrés and the nasty Bristol industrial dub of Ekoplekz against Kato’s own subversive styles.

Following in that interesting arc of A&Ring, AWK 005 finds another burgeoning talent in dubstep taking the reins, as the seemingly nomadic Daojia delivers a sensitive track focused on crisp garage drum patterns and accomplished melodic content.  “Riego Street Dub” is a dynamic track that glides naturally between different phrases and sections within its six-minute run time, primarily denoted by differing configurations of winsome bleeps, yet it never strays too far from its plotted course.

If you were to take a guess at the choice of remixer, the chances are that you wouldn’t have settled on Scan 7. The shadowy Detroit collective spearheaded by Trackmasta Lou hardly come across as the most approachable of remixers, not least for a fledgling, dubstep-oriented label based in the UK, but full credit to label chief Keith Pettinger for locking them down. The resulting remix is everything you would hope for from the UR-affiliated crew, with a propulsive, hard-hitting beat under-pinning wistful pads with that mixture of soul and brute-force that makes Detroit techno so alluring. Subtle shifts in the beat programming go by almost unnoticed as the relentless drive of the track takes hold, but it’s these masterful touches that give such tracks their energy.

As you can tell, it’s a very diverse proposition for a 12”, but married with the dedication to presentation as highlighted in this recent news piece, it promises that Awkward Movements is a label destined to achieve enamoured responses from those of us who enjoy buying into everything a record label should represent.

Oli Warwick


Tracklisting:

1. Riego Street Dub
2. Riego Street (Scan7 Way Of The Se7en Mix)