Arkaik: Cutting Edge EP
Diffrent Music

Mikal: Spiritual / The Chant (Rido Remix)
Utopia Music

More fresh drum'n'bass tracks, this time a punchy two-track single from Mikal (M. Willet) as well as an elegant four-tracker from Arkaik on Hunchbak and Dexta's Diffrent imprint. “Spiritual” by Mikal's got epic written all over it, from the ominous synth washes that introduce it to the pummeling beats that flatten the surrounding terrain with a lethal skip and slam. It's the bass elements, however, that are truly crushing in this case, with Mikal stretching the sub-bass wobble into all kind of damaging shapes. On the flip side, Rido (Pavel Rido) takes Mikal's “The Chant” for a suitably frenetic ride, it likewise teeming with bass warble and powered by a hypercharged beat pattern.

By comparison, Arkaik's Cutting Edge EP eases into view more stealthily, its title track surreptitiously sneaking into position and its intricate beat design content to come into focus slowly. That surprisingly understated opener acts as somewhat of a scene-setter, then, for the more aggressive tunes that follow, including “Lost,” a bright stepper sprinkled with soulful vocal interjections and warm, piano-inflected moodscaping. Arkaik's joined by MCXL on “Game Changer,” with the latter adding cryptically distorted and dread-fueled flow (“Let me introduce you to the game changer”) to the tune's skeletal drum snap and bass pulses. At EP's end, “Serrated” adopts the tone and stripped-down style of “Game Changer” but, notwithstanding a few creeped-out chants of the title, minus the MC's presence. Track title aside, the release isn't a game changer, though there is a cutting edge flavour to it, albeit a subtle one.

February 2013