Ron Morelli, LB Dub Corp, Pearson Sound, Vester Koza and Terrence Dixon headed up a week of musically challenging releases.
If there was a “Great Chain of Being” for UK bass producers, Pearson Sound would likely be resting his feet on a cloud near the top. Over the last half decade, his productions have set a snarling standard for the tough-to-pin-down genre Hessle Audio excels in: writhing emaciated frameworks held together by violent claps and gut puncturing sub-bass. It’s a style many have attempted to copy (with limited success), and part of what distinguishes David Kennedy from the legions of other unsmiling British boys with mussed hair is his expertise at honing on various genres, extracting a tiny piece of what he wants, and surgically infusing it into his sound.
The next releases on Hessle Audio will come from the label regulars.
Pearson Sound has announced details of his first new material since last year’s Clutch EP.
The label compilation can be a very big deal in marking out the story of a serious imprint. Since its inception in 2009, there’s no doubt that Boddika has been steering his treasured Nonplus stable with a razor-sharp instinct that has seen it become one of the defining outposts of the dubstep fallout. Rasping electro has sat next to deluded deep house, half-step drum & bass alongside decaying techno, rumbling 140isms against churning 110 bpm grooves.
We’ve got a pair of tickets to give away to this weekend’s Beat Dimension warehouse party in London featuring Pearson Sound, A Made Up Sound and Wbeeza.
It seems that despite his change in name from Ramadanman to Pearson Sound, David Kennedy has been working with much the same formula for some time now. Whether it’s “Work Them” or “Glut” as Ramadanman, “Stifle” or “Blanked” as Pearson Sound, it seems like Kennedy had worked out a comfortable palette of sounds on which to draw on – 808s, blasts of grimy bass, clipped vocals, hanging chords – and although nobody could argue about the power of these tracks on a dancefloor, it was obvious that some kind of change was badly needed, especially given how many of his peers (Untold, Pangaea, Cosmin TRG) have gone on to do such diverse things with such great success. Coming from a scene that prides itself on constantly thinking outside the box, it seemed odd that one of its progenitors would have remained at such an impasse. The recent “Untitled” was in interesting diversion, but it was clear that it wasn’t where Kennedy was heading next.
Hessle Audio have slipped out details of their next release, a three track EP from label co-owner Pearson Sound.
The next Sunklo release has been unveiled, led by a collaboration between Pearson Sound, Boddika and Joy Orbison.
Arriving at this year’s edition of Field Day soon after the gates opened, it was possible to watch Pearson Sound’s DJ set and bask in the festival’s humongous surrounds long before the rest of London descended. Whilst the notion of catching David Kennedy at 1 in the afternoon in the Bugged Out! tent seemed odd at first, it certainly didn’t put him off running through a typically upfront selection, with Auntie Flo’s forthcoming “Oh My Days” sandwiched in between his own Night Slugs bootleg and Four Tet’s dramatic “Locked”. The bleary eyed gathering quickly grew ten fold as his set progressed, rapidly adapting to the notion of an ice cold San Miguel at midday. His performance was of the high quality expected from the Hessle boss, and it wouldn’t be surprising if he turned up much higher on the bill again next year.
At a time when music critics and fans alike are more than happy to endlessly debate what the next stage of dubstep’s progression should be called, Hessle Audio present 116 & Rising – a rich demonstration of how the label has progressed over the past four years and an exciting portent of where they might go in the future. Whichever format you choose to sink into, when you come out the other side you can’t help but be fully impressed.
As anyone who has followed the label’s progression will attest, it’s natural that the triple vinyl edition contains the most swagger, with the design work from regular collaborator Will Bankhead looking stunning across the gatefold sleeve and the twelve new and exclusive tracks spread across three slabs of vinyl, two to a side. Furthermore the inclusion in this edition of all 24 tracks on CD makes it the smart choice to indulge in.
If you can see past the temptation to merely sit and admire the artwork and actually bask in the music on offer, you will be richly rewarded with an array of brilliant material from the Hessle camp. Mainstays such as Elgato, Untold and James Blake naturally feature alongside contributions from the two thirds of the Hessle Audio decision-making team that produce. Flexing their status at the top of the game, Hessle can also call on new tracks from Addison Groove, Peverelist and D1, which is clearly a move to show which of their contemporaries has helped to shape the direction of the label since it launched in 2007.
So far so impressive, but how does the actual music sound? It surpasses expectation and has you gripped from the moment Elgato’s “Music (Body Mix)” starts. Along the way Blawan serves further notice that he’s got the best drum flex in the game on “Potchla Vee” which might just work in the rattle of a can of spray paint. Sitting next to this is “Stifle”, the one Pearson Sound submission, which sounds like a 23rd century twist on “Din Da Da”. Fans of David Kennedy are well stocked though, as he graces 116 & Rising with no less than three Ramadanman productions – perhaps finally putting this alias to bed?
Elsewhere, Cosmin TRG’s “Bijoux” is every bit as impressive as the four tracks that made up A Universal Crush, his EP for the Rush Hour Direct Current series (this reviewers favourite release of 2011 so far), whilst Joe invokes the spirit of West London circa 2001 on the tinny broken sensation of “Twice”. Amidst such celebrated company, Addison Groove might just steal the show on “Fuk Da 101” which combines dexterous sampling of urgent vocals with a cacophony of crazed percussive touches.
More words could be said on the music that features on the second CD but followers of Hessle Audio will be familiar with the brilliance of tracks such as “Fram”, “Rut” and Martyn’s ever excellent remix of TRG’s “Broken Heart” and happy to have them on CD for the first time, whilst late comers will delight in experiencing these and the nine other inclusions for the first time. With such a detailed musical representation of the label’s past, present and future, you might wonder why there was no thought given to the inclusion of sleeve notes. However the music is strong enough to speak for itself, and perhaps enough people spend far too much column space discussing their music anyway?
David Kennedy, aka Ramadanman/Pearson Sound, undoubtedly one of the most talked about electronic artists of recent times, steps up with his highly anticipated mix, marking the 56th instalment of the venerable fabriclive series. Since he first appeared in 2006, Kennedy has released on numerous labels including Loefah’s Swamp 81, Untold’s Hemlock, Will Saul’s Aus and of course Hessle Audio, the label he co-runs with Ben UFO and Pangaea. Championed by critics, tastemakers and the bass music fraternity alike, he very much represents the sound of now and is an obvious choice for fabriclive, being a talented DJ as well as producer. Amongst the almost exorbitant 30-track selection are 10 of Kennedy’s own, signposted by explorations into dubstep, post-dubstep, house, funky, techno, grime, juke and beyond.
Throughout the album, tracks are spliced together in an ever-metamorphosing swell of sound. We are taken from the atmospheric, blissed out entrée, pottering about around 130bpm, through some hissing techno-laced moments and house rhythms – most notably the ultimate DJ tool otherwise known as “Late Night Jam” by Levon Vincent – to the immense sounds of Julio Bashmore’s “Battle For Middle You” which ups the pace, segueing smoothly and effortlessly into the infectious booty bass of “Grab Somebody” (surely one of Kennedy’s less appreciated offerings) and onwards through the Carl Craig re-edit of “Void23”, his collab with Bristol based producer Appleblim. Elsewhere the grandiose “symphonic refix” of latter day hero Joy Orbison provides another delectable soundbite before we are plunged yet deeper into the mix.
Bass fiends will get a kick out of the second half of the mix in which Pangaea’s “Inna Daze”, with its tribal pattering, wailing cries and deep, dubbed out soundscape foreshadows Pinch’s moody, melancholic “Qawaali” and the Benji B championed classic MJ Cole ft. Wiley “From The Drop”, which all occur in a delicious triplet with a Pearson Sound cut to shake things up. To top it all off there’s even a delicately placed smattering of Burial, before the mix deftly changes direction towards Bok Bok, Girl Unit, and ubiquitous underground anthem “Woo Riddim”. Finishing with a slew of super sharp cuts from Bristol based Addison Groove, dubstep pioneer Mala and London via Berlin producer Sigha, Pearson Sound’s selection for number 56 is both on point and seamlessly eclectic. Much like his electrifying DJ sets, the elements gel together beautifully, offering something very unifying and wholesome, making for an essential and very satisfying listen.
Despite its many charms, Minehead’s Butlins resort in mid March is patently not Barcelona.Yet it’s here, out of season by the Bristol channel, that a musical movement is brewing to rival that of Sónar as one of the world’s premiere events catering for discerning electronic music.
Bloc, now in its fifth year, has grown exponentially since its launch and the line-up assembled for the 2011 showcase was, on paper, its strongest yet. In many ways it’s a canny move to book the event so early in the year, as it allows organisers to operate unencumbered by the goings on of the UK/European summer festivals that duke it out from June to August. It also offers actual beds to revellers, and those of us of a certain vintage welcome the chance to rest our weary heads somewhere comfy, rather than climb into a freezing tent and sleep for exactly five minutes before waking up to scorching sunshine/pissing rain (delete where applicable) and a parched mouth.
Amidst all the excitement of the forthcoming Pearson Sound white label for Night Slugs it’s easy to forget that Fabric will soon be unleashing the stellar Ramadanman/Pearson Sound Fabric Live 56 mix. A timely reminder from the Farringdon institution is provided via the chance to win entrance to the launch party and a copy of the CD.
One of electronic music’s most in demand characters, David Kennedy, has mixed the 56th instalment of the Fabriclive series.
It’s fair to say that Leeds via London Hessle Audio co-founder David Kennedy has had a pretty outstanding year. This year alone, he has released a collaboration with Midland on Will Saul’s Aus imprint; “Glut” on Untold’s Hemlock; the Ramadanman EP on Hessle Audio and “Work Them” (the ubiquitous summer anthem, and arguably the new “Hyph Mngo”) on Loefah’s Swamp 81. Earning the respect and admiration of every DJ and tastemaker worth their salt, plus a legion of loyal followers, twenty one year old Pearson Sound (aka Ramadanman) has blown the music industry away with his sophisticated production, devastating DJ sets and creative prowess. And make no mistake, his next 12” on the Hessle imprint is no exception to the rule.
For anyone who heard Kennedy on Benji B’s Radio One show a few weeks back, you will know of his current interest in Chicago Juke, and it is from this sonic palette that he paints his picture here. A gorgeous, hazy atmospheric intro with a shimmering glow grows as the beats begin to patter with increasing insistence in “Blanked”. Building the atmosphere like a master craftsman, he sculpts and moulds the sounds around one another adeptly, like a potter working clay, or an artist sketching a drawing. As the track moves along, a warm hum of bass, sonorous organ-like instrumentals and chopped up future garage style vocals lead into a drop around the midway point. The progression and development continues right until the end, as the tune disappears into a crackle of background noise, hums and whirs.
It’s a hard act to follow, but “Blue Eyes” on the flip makes a sterling attempt to live up to its counterpart. Tuning into a less brooding sensibility, Kennedy lets the tension build in a gently nudging, hissing intro before flurrying bleepy ripples reign free with cooing female vox. These chirrups are no sooner articulated then they are drowned out and disappear; the ticking beats and percussion return to the fore, but then again, teasingly, the vocals return, only to be towed away on a tidal wave of synth work and sobriety. So we are drawn into the world of Pearson Sound with a superb release and another gem in Kennedy’s ever-expanding musical canon.