Wen: Signals (CD, Keysound, March 2014)

First things first: This album has about the most fantastic, exciting production I’ve heard in ages. The beats clatter and stutter. The synths are choppy and fragmented, but melodic. The powerful bottom-end is taut and muscular, and deployed with restraint. For most of the record, vocals are sparsely used, and then in clipped, abruptly cut off samples. The whole thing has an awesome urgency to it. It’s the kind of music which demands to be played loud, and which never quite lets you relax. There’s a broad ahem sonic pallette at work here, with some interesting Asian influences (most obviously on the self-explanatory Persian, also in the Indian vocal snippets on Time), but in an urban-melting-pot way that’s a world away from ‘world music’. When we do get a fully-fledged vocal, the performances have a jaw-dropping athleticism (especially Riko’s on the closing track). I kind of worry that it’s impossible for me to talk about dubstep without sounding like the whitest person on earth, and/or like the middle-aged relative at a wedding disco saying ‘ooh, this has a good beat!’. But when it sounds this good, I kind of don’t care.

I bought this from Boomkat. They call it Grime / Fwd. (I think they made up Fwd… it’s a club, right, but I don’t think anyone else is using it as a genre…)

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