The arrival of Boddika and Joy Orbison’s “Swims” will probably end up being Swamp81’s biggest release of the year, but those who have heard it will know it was really the biggest release of last year. Unleashed on the world via Rinse FM at the end of March 2011, and then promptly ripped onto YouTube by a number of bedroom fanatics eager to bask in its reflected glory, it’s a landmark track for the nebulous “UK Bass” scene, whose name dare not be spoken at risk of incurring the wrath of Ben UFO on Twitter.
The release itself features two versions of “Swims”. The A-Side version is lean and stripped back, built upon a nasty-as-f**k acid bassline that combines with a flurry of cowbells and “walk for me” vocal sample that can get stuck on repeat inside your head for days. The B-Side’s alternate mix, however, is undoubtedly the better of the two; with a vocal sample that featured on Orbison’s “Wade In” from the same period, along with some “Sicko Cell” era chords adding a jaunty melodic quality, it has the jarring effect of sounding like a medley of Boddika and Orbison’s best bits. It’s the kind of thing you can imagine the pair created having fun in the studio and realising they’d struck gold without necessarily having any intention of releasing it. Whatever the intentions behind “Swims”, it’s a track that shows the pair in great form, and represents another step in the young Orbison’s continuing journey to confound everyone with his chameleon-like abilities.
However, one can’t help but feel that the physical release has arrived a little too late. The reason for the track’s delay can probably be attributed to it being a fairly obvious reworking of Robbie Tronco’s “Walk 4 Me” from 1998, with Tronco himself threatening legal action via the comments section of the original YouTube rip. At this point, “Swims” has already featured on two commercial mix CDs (from the aforementioned Ben UFO and Pinch) and has been played countless times on Rinse FM and in clubs around the world. Indeed it’s been played so much it leaves you wondering who doesn’t have a copy of it, which makes its appearance now, in January 2012, slightly disappointing. Not because of the track itself, which is a devastating club production by two of the world’s finest, but because it’s been accompanied by hype on a scale unseen since the dark days of blog house, when every Justice track was jumped on by a blogging network that has largely imploded due to its own hysteria propagation.
Ultimately, “Swims” is like the musical equivalent of snack food; enjoyable when consumed in the right quantities, but likely to make you feel bloated otherwise. And it’s the YouTube hype that has partially caused this; despite the presumed legal wranglings, there’s a lesson in “Swims” for any aspiring label or producer: sometimes it’s best to hold a little something back.