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Elgato – Zone/Luv Zombie review

While releasing a record on Hessle Audio arguably carries an amount of kudos that should guarantee an artist’s success, Elgato, whose debut came out on the label in October 2010, has never really received the attention he’s rightfully deserved. Part of that is because he’s only released three tracks until now, but one suspects that it’s perhaps because his music is almost completely at odds with the scene that Hessle has helped establish. The one thing that seems to connect the various strands of bass are their utilisation of tempos from 128-140bpm – speeds which don’t exactly lend themselves to warm up music. As a result, the closer “bass music” heads towards 120bpm to fill those early hours of the night, the more it simply becomes “house music”, or an insipid broken-beat variant thereof that often lacks the defining characteristic of its name: bass.

That’s one criticism that can’t be levelled at Elgato. With a barely audible yet all enveloping low end operating at a frequency at the edges of human hearing, “Zone” is a heady composition whose repeating, pitched down vocal snippet and threadbare rhythms recall pitched down footwork heard through a haze of weed smoke, or perhaps what you might get if you picked out five micro-elements from a Hype Williams sketch and sequenced them into a linear 118bpm house track. But crucially, there’s very little forward propulsion here – the body response comes from the head, not the feet – and in that respect Elgato has impressively distilled the essence of a DMZ-era dubstep track into a much slower tempo. Only marginally faster, “Luv Zombie” manages a similar feat with a similarly sparse set of tools. The increasing scourge of the bass world – the cut up R&B vocal – is here more skilfully used in the first third to coil up tension, with the bass drop coming in not with a crash but floating upwards on a thermal current of gentle strings, doing exactly what is required to get a static crowd moving – lift the energy levels noticeably but gently.

Many will avoid this EP on the basis that it simply isn’t banging enough – even Pearson Sound admitted in an interview with FACT last year that it took him a while to warm to Elgato’s material. But then that’s not the point – on the strength of his releases to date it’s becoming clear that Elgato is more interested in opening up new possibilities by using the characteristics of dubstep and garage to create his own dialogue with these genres at slower tempos few are brave enough to explore, thus offering his own solution to the problem – what do you play if you’re first to the decks at a bass night?

Scott Wilson


Tracklisting:

1. Zone
2. Luv Zombie