Saturday, October 9, 2010

The AK review: Swamp 006

My good friend Ak was asked to review some releases for the great newly born website Fundamental and here's what he thinks of Ramadanman's efforts for Swamp81:

Without doubt Ramadanman is a producer and DJ at the very epicenter of the ever evolving UK dance music scene. As part owner of the mighty Hessle Audio imprint (alongside Ben UFO & Pangaea), ex-Sub FM / now Rinse regular, Ramadanman has all the while managed to find time to release tracks and remixes on his own and other notable labels like Soul Jazz, Applepips, AUS Music, Hemlock and Tempa amongst others. There is every indication that David Kennedy is one of those plucky individuals who’s furrowing of new aural pallets will continue to see him at the forefront of the scene for a long time to come. For now though, Ramadanman’s first outing on Loefah’s Swamp 81 label is an interesting development in both the label’s and the producer’s sound.
Following on neatly from Addison Groove’s introduction of the UK Juke variant, Swamp 006 sees Ramadanman lending his considerable talents to the exploration of this nascent sound. “Fall Short” on the A-side of this double A-side release juxtaposes the rude and bashy bass sounds of the now with soulful vocal musings of the kind Ramadanman has been pushing in his recent works. A pulsating soundtrack of 808 inspired percussion lines boom, bap and zap the speakers while tight snare rolls break up the beat and punctuate the intricate but flowing rhythm. Splashes of cascading synth melodies dot the track tying in the sublime vocal line that delays and swells its way to the eventual payoff when the bass drops to decimating effect. No huge departure from recent form then really and even perhaps more accurately a furthering of the recent evolution in Ramadanman’s output, this track stands as testament to the producers talent of blending brash bass heavy rhythms and melodic or dare I say even sensual / feminine pressures like those alluded to by Blackdown in his effusive testament to Hyph Mngo’s defining of a new direction in the sound previously known as Dubstep.
“Work Them” on the flip steps things up a notch and delivers a speaker work out that from start to finish harkens back to early Miami electro bass beats given a 2010 relick. Like “Footcrab” before it, the song’s title is mercilessly chopped and repeated like a Chitown Juke crew’s name being constantly repped at a Walacam battle. Except this is 130bpm business, not the frantic pace of Juke from which it borrows the aesthetic. After two minutes of straight banging, 808 tom drum sounds increasingly pitched up reach a crescendo before a cheeky scratch break drops the beat back in. Shortly thereafter the track’s sole melodic element, a massive pad swell, washes the track out in a breakdown before the beat drops again increasingly invigorated as Ramadanman puts his programming chops to the test. This is a track that is made for peak times and will work the crowd in to hysterical fits of bass propelled hip swaggering motions, and while comparisons to “Footcrab” will be inevitable, I would argue that “Work Them” is a more robust and accomplished foray in to the emergent sound that Swamp 81 has unleashed upon us.
The question has to be asked though, how many records does it take to define a genre? And UK Juke is an interesting case in point. On Soundcloud you can easily find examples of producers willing to try their hand at emulating this sound, but will such efforts translate in to more releases along these lines? The quality of Swamp 81’s last two 12”s have obviously struck a resonant chord in the UK dance scene’s subconscious, with “Footcrab” garnering more than its fair share of column inches and continual rinses on the FM and interweb spectrums. But with Ramadanman’s “Fall Short / Work Them” we are treated to something more than just emulation. This is evolution through genre mutation.
Ramadanman – Fall Short / Work Them [Swamp006] is out now on Swamp 81

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