Review : Various Artists - Back and 4th
PitchforkAfter an initial burst of creativity, dubstep has splintered into a number of camps. There's "brostep," of which nothing more need be said. Some artists took the "dub" mandate literally and constructed a world of midnight, alienated electronic music, best exemplified by the Hyperdub label. A third, diffuse group borrowed the movement's rhythmic syncopations and set upon exploring the vast stylistic implications of bass in electronic music. Some of the finest music in the latter camp has found a home on Paul Rose's UK-based Hotflush Recordings; Back and 4th is Hotflush's first label compilation, featuring a disc of unmixed hits of and another of new material from its still-small roster.
The big names here will be recognizable to anyone paying a modicum of attention to UK electronic music: Mount Kimbie, Joy Orbison (now Joy O), and Untold all feature, as well as less prominent but still productive names like Scuba (Rose himself) and Pangaea. Hotflush's output has always felt warmer than their more claustrophobic peers, and Back and 4th is inviting-- full of bobbing, circular rhythms and august synths. On the whole, it's more immediate than Hyperdub's excellent (and similarly constructed) 5; the mood is glum and contemplative, but you won't need to uncrate your personal paranoia to best it.
The hits disc cuts a limited swath through Hotflush's catalog, but it's a boon both to those who haven't diligently collected tracks like Mount Kimbie's "Maybes (James Blake Remix)" and Joy Orbison's "Hyph Mngo" and anyone who hasn't been replaying them faithfully. A homespun mix of ashy, melodic techno would hardly do better, and the slightest bit of hindsight reveals that these tracks have as much in common with late 1990s Warp and, say, Tricky as anything that could rightfully be called dubstep....full text
ResidentadvisorThe last time Hotflush Recordings released a compilation, 2007's Space and Time, they were dishing out chromatic variations on dubstep. Fast forward four years and they feel far, far away from the genre. With a disc of exclusive cuts and a retrospective chronicling the years since Space and Time, Back and 4th shows a label evolving in real-time through techno, house, electro and drum & bass and emerging from the sprawl with an even clearer identity.
The retrospective disc paints a fascinating trajectory, picking some not-so-obvious highlights from the label's rather masterful run of recent years. The label's in-house family is well-represented, with Mount Kimbie front and centre: the miniature funk of "Sketch on Glass" and James Blake's kaleidoscopic remix of "Maybes" are the most immediate moments, and in a similar vein the incredible Jamie Vex'd remix of Scuba's "Twitch" predicts a whole trend of hypercolour bass music. The disc also features classic early material from Pangaea ("Bear Witness"), Untold ("Sweat," miles away from his recent material), and of course, Joy Orbison's universal rave-without-borders anthem "Hyph Mngo."
The ten previously released tracks would make for a solid enough label history, but they're easily overshadowed by the ten new tracks. Compilations are often overstuffed with stray leftovers, but Back and 4th is prim and proper, ten eminently solid tracks from ten eminent producers. The compilation carries a few surprises, particularly as Scuba delivers a raucous electro rave-up on "Feel It" and FaltyDL serves up a slice of out-of-nowhere synth-orchestra bombast sliced and diced by his usual arsenal of shuffling hats and snares. There are dependable workhorses too: Sigha delivers one of his most assertive workouts yet in the rough-and-tumble breakbeat of "Fold," and George FitzGerald offers the silky "We Bilateral" which turns a vocal stutter into overlapping layers of light-saturated ecstasy....full text
StateOn a recent BBC show Paul Rose aka Scuba suggested that “bass” was the best word to characterise the music he has been putting out on his Hotflush label. Listening to Back and 4th is easy to see why these producers don’t see themselves as dubstep producers – only a few tracks here bare much resemblance to that dark, brooding, oppressive sound commonly associated with dubstep.
It’s not really a case of the music becoming more approachable or watered down as it comes out of the underground since the artists featured here could hardly be described as seeking mainstream attention. It appears to be more that the loose blueprint has left itself open to be interpreted whatever way a producer wants to.
One of the most satisfying things about being a fan of this music is seeing how producers have been developing and perfecting their own unique styles and Hotflush has been a crucial label for taking chances with artists who have a different perspective. From Boxcutter’s jittery funk to Mount Kimbie’s sleepy electronica and Boddika’s dark electro the range of moods and textures across these two CDs is staggering....full text
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