Keysound’s Martin Clark, quite rightly never one to shy away from letting the world know what he thinks of movements in dubstep and grime’s ever widening sphere of influence, recently tweeted about certain producers from the bass scene “sleepwalking into trad house mediocrity”. Quite who he was talking about is a discussion in itself, but the movement of many producers from the fringes of the bass world into experimenting with traditional house forms makes you wonder who will soon be left to fly the flag for the hardcore continuum. Step forward then Slackk, a producer whose singles for Numbers and Unknown To The Unknown have channeled the various strands of the ‘nuum and used them to stitch together influences from Detroit and Chicago into classic UK styles, namely jungle and grime.
It’s grime that’s his biggest influence though, an interest he explored prior to his production career through the online pirate radio archive Grimetapes, and it’s certainly the heaviest sound at play in Raw Missions, his debut for Local Action. From the opening bars of opener “Blue Sleet”, the influence is obvious – a precise matrix of thin, frosty synths, composed into fluid parallelograms of luminous turquoise. “Fat City” takes a similar formula and inverts it, creating a particularly mournful instrumental with a sluggish beat, inspiring images of a rain soaked sink estate. “Almost Transparent” meanwhile, positively swims with melodic charm, and despite going heavy on the Eastern synth flutes and thin marimba stabs it has enough gravitational pull in the thick low end and low key gunshots to keep the whole thing grounded. The nods to Wiley in these tracks are obvious, but there’s a palpable steroid injection present that makes these tracks undeniably the work of Slackk, whose productions have always felt anatomically large. The real gut punch however is “90 Years” – the only track that eschews any kind of melody for sheer dancefloor power, with industrial snares alongside thick cylinders of laser bass that feel like they’ve been fired by an orbiting death ray.
Slackk’s previous singles were fun (if a little sloppy at times), but there’s a maturity at play on Raw Missions which puts this release into a different league. That’s not to say he’s lost the rambunctious nature of his earlier material, but it’s been pared back, focused, and most importantly keeps the beats off the grid, and one gets the impression there will be no danger of this guy succumbing to the lure of 4/4 anytime soon – for which the hardcore continuum should breathe a sigh of relief.
1. Blue Sleet
2. 90 Years
3. Fat City
4. Almost Transparent