In the grand scheme of things it’s not that long since the Hessle Audio and Hotflush stables were the last word in the contemporary collision between dubstep and other genres, and given the adoration they have spawned it’s not surprising that recent times have seen a raft of younger labels doing similar things. Like the music of their more established kin, Left Blank’s releases are ostensibly bass, taking in the slower, straighter influences of house and techno along the way, and on this EP, split between relatively unknown producers Visionist and Lorca, they give their contemporaries a run for their money.
Visionist’s “W.M.I.D.” revolves around the mood-shifting curveballs it keeps throwing; beginning with some particularly dark pads, ringing 808 cowbell, and a chopped up dancehall-esque vocal sample, it initially sounds like it’s going to be something altogether moodier. But as the pads are removed and the discordant stabs begin the track audibly tilts on its axis, the rhythm changing from flowing to something much more stop-start. The most obvious comparison that comes to mind would be the productions of Hessle’s Joe or Pangaea, and like their material, this track positively revels in its rhythmic playfulness, which, combined with the taut vocal samples and percussive tics, lend it an infectious African pop flavour. It’s easy to see why Lorca’s “Hold Back” shares the EP with Visionist; utilising a similarly playful approach to rhythm, his production is full of booming low end which creates a fine contrast with the sugar-sweet vocal samples and percolating melody, while the woody organ tones combined with the brittle rhythm and nonchalant handclaps create a distinctly impressionistic version of R&B which gives the track its unique appeal.
The digital release sees two more tracks: The first is a remix of “Hold Back” by Valentin Stip (who has recently released on Nicolas Jaar’s Clown and Sunset imprint), who manages to further strip back the already sparse original. Almost devoid of rhythm, it displays only the occasional flourish of drums, and adds only some piano to further highlight the pastoral beauty of the original. “Slapstickk”, a collaboration between Visionist and Lorca, is just as enthralling as their individual efforts. Containing the kind of stripped back kicks and deep bass that Peverelist would be proud of, it’s a similarly complex combination of tense bass rhythms and kwaito-style melody, which begs to be heard in darker, noisier confines, especially given the track’s tight, rolling pace which never lets up.