Bristol based dubstep pioneer and Tectonic label boss Rob Ellis (aka Pinch) is a producer whose long-standing reputation and prestige within the scene is consistently reaffirmed by each release. Pinch sits alongside the likes of DMZ’s Mala, Coki and Loefah, promoting a more cerebral, dubbed out sound which will undoubtedly continue to lead the way forward in bass music for years to come. His inaugural 12” “War Dub/Alien Tongue” was released on Tectonic back in 2005 and led on to a series of high profile releases on Mike Paradinas’ Planet Mu imprint as well as his debut artist album Underwater Dancehall in 2007 – an opus of work that remains one of the defining long players of the genre to date. Yet despite all this, Pinch is not a prolific producer. A graduate of the “quality, not quantity” school of production, Rob Ellis makes a welcome return to the airwaves with the exceptional and superlative heavyweight dancefloor driven cut, “The Boxer”.
Kicking off with a restrained whir of rumbling and murmured squeaking, pattering bongos pace a well trodden, taunting pattern around hissing percussion in the intro. A punishing kick drum lays down the law with a firm and threatening gravitas, which is sustained for the duration. Stepping intricately around the ring with adept footwork and poised balance, “The Boxer” dances tentatively before metamorphosing into the main tune with a smooth and sustained progression. Thunderous subs and crackling bass build with mounting intensity. An epic choral passage, like Handel’s “Messiah” steeped in melancholia, sits beneath the frenetic, tribal drums as the tune rises and falls before reaching an awe-inspiring finale. Oris Jay, under his Darqwan alias, provides a remix over on the flip. Taking things on a tougher, rougher tip, with raw, metallic SFX, driving aggression and mounting suspense, Darqwan certainly doesn’t eclipse the original in style and panache, but he does provide a satisfying alternative version in which the addition of a growling, glitchy vocal snippet “boxerrr” intensifies the leering grimaced confrontation. Outstanding and essential.