Notorious dubstep progenitors – the once eight-strong, now four man Horsepower collective return to the airwaves ten years after they first emerged from the murky depths of Croydon. Benny Ill, the long-serving lynchpin of the group, teams up with Nassis, Lev Jnr and Jay King for the third Horsepower album, Quest For The Sonic Bounty on Tempa Recordings. Much has been written on their enduring legacy and the recent re-emergence of Horsepower Productions after a five year hiatus has reminded us all of dubstep’s origins at a time when perhaps we most need to be.
From listening to cuts from the album such as “22” and “Water” with their conversational narrative, snippets of dialogue and documentary samples, you can see these genes passed on into the DNA of Skream’s Human Traffic sampling “Rutten”, Rock Master Rock referencing “Midnight Request Line” and the work of Benga, Mala, Coki and more. Elsewhere on Quest For The Sonic Bounty the beautiful, atmospheric intro, crisp percussion and dubbed out soundscape of entrée “Rain” sets the tone for the journey, with ricocheting beats recoiling from the sheer pressure of the bass. A moody malaise seems to hover in the background throughout the album which is strangely enthralling. “Mexican Slayride” brings in the ghosts of tribal calls, pattering breaks and jungle style SFX, weaving the story in crackling film sampled snippets around these textured layers. Special edits of last year’s release “Damn It/Kingstep” bookmark “18th Special” where a more intricate, bordering on frenetic, interplay of rhythms come into semblance.
As we near the end, we are treated to a remix of Lee Scratch Perry’s “Exercising” – an evocative interpretation of the classic – before final flourish “Poison White” brings us to the end of our journey, with a wailing vocal, blissed out atmospherics and tribal rhythms dancing and pattering around deep, hypnotic sub bass. Quest For The Sonic Bounty reaffirms once again that Horsepower are one of the most important and genre defining acts of our generation. A must have album.