Cid Poitier: Deep Logic EP

PRTCL & Survey: Traction
Notion Audio

VA: Rogue Style 1 EP
Rogue Style

Three releases spanning the jungle, drum'n'bass, dub, and bass music spectrum, the first of which comes from Londoner Chris James under the Cid Poitier name. A DJ (since 1997) and producer, he calls what he's doing “stripped-back, minimal, soulful, hypnotic, tribal, dubby-junglist-dancehall influenced meditation music,” and there's certainly no shortage of it on his second EP for the Washington, DC-based label Translation. Like James, the label prides itself on operating without borders and issuing tunes that satisfy as club cuts and home listening material. His style transcends black-and-white genre pigeonholing by blending multiple styles into a forward-thinking sound system brew, with elements of d'n'b, dubstep, dancehall, and jungle surfacing within deep tribal productions that mirror the cultural melting pot of his South London world.

The five-tracker begins with the aptly named “Deep Logic,” which effectively encapsulates the Cid Poitier soundworld in battering a muscular neurofunk groove with a mix of industrial machine textures, the result so commanding it inspires awe. Dubbier by comparison, “Kill Sound” rises from the murk like some awakening behemoth, spewing cola-black venom and disembodied voices across its thumping bass and snaking shuffle as it does so, while “Unity” retains the dub vibe whilst also working dancehall in amongst its horn accents and MC garble. The slow skank of “Rebel” pushes the EP even more deeply into the dub zone, after which The Untouchables lay out “Hear Dis” (from the 2016 Cid Poitier EP Afrique, also on Translation) with a punchy guest remix whose tribal trippiness seamlessly complements James's four originals. Without diminishing its credibility as club material, the half-hour Deep Logic holds up fabulously as headphones material.

At his Facebook page, Berlin-based drum'n'bass producer PRTCL declares, “I hate talking about myself in the third person, so I'll let the music do the talking,” which it most assuredly does on his third release, a two-tracker pairing a solo cut with a Survey collaboration, on his own Notion Audio imprint. Each track has an interesting backstory, the solo one especially: having acquired a handheld recorder, the sounds of clanging pots and pans caught his ear, so much that pots hitting the sink became the track's main hook. Of course, if you didn't know any better you'd probably identify the strikes as the product of a processed percussive object, but knowing where the sound originated adds to the listening experience. Production details aside, the tune's an outright banger that's firmly in the tradition: powering the material with an aggressive thrust, PRTCL peppers the bass-throbbing storm with off-beat strikes, ride cymbal accents, and whooshes of various kinds. The B-side, “Traction,” which came into being when PRTCL put Survey up for a weekend when they played at a Flexout night in London, is a heavy-hitter, too, also very much in the tradition but no less appealing for being so. In classic manner, snares and kick drums stoke a lethal thunder while background noises of various pitches, a shimmering organ among them, spread through the atmosphere like a flesh-eating virus. Though PRTCL's been producing drum'n'bass for a near-decade, his background extends to sound design, mixing, and teaching music production, and certainly both cuts exemplify a keen ear for detail and design.

Rogue Style 1 EP shifts the focus away from drum'n'bass for a four-track homage to B-boy culture courtesy of Sinistarr (USA), Kiat (Singapore), Kabuki (Germany), and HomeSick (Canada). Each producer's contribution departs from the others in subtle and not-so-subtle ways, yet all draw from the worlds of breakbeat music and breakdance in one way or another. For the Sinistarr opener, “Yo Speakerz,” Jeremy Howard, who's released material on Metalheadz, Hospital Records, Project 51, Renegade Hardware, and others, brings Detroit's Filthiest aboard. The groove swings, for sure, but the stutter-funk vocal edits are tasty, too, and Howard's tune genuinely dazzles as an artful, future-funk blend of hip-hop and breaks. Though Jonathan Nah Eng Kiat, like Howard, has appeared on Metalheadz, he issued his debut album, 2013's The Inner Galaxy, on Syndicate, and is about to release its follow-up, Ataraxia, on the same. “Visual,” Kiat's contribution to the EP, pulls a number of different styles into its orbit—dub for its skeletal groove, hip-hip for its vocal (by Klose)—in a way that lives up to Kiat's “Progression is the key to evolution” stance. While the title of Kabuki's (Jan Hennig) “South Bronx Subway Riddim” makes its connection to B-boy culture clear, the tune itself breezily extends itself into drum'n'bass, jazz, dub, and even, in its melodic dimension, classical, after which Calgary producer HomeSick caps the EP with “Mass Appeal,” a fresh head-spinner whose slippery groove's as indebted to footwork and funk as much as anything Bronx-related.

May 2017