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White Noise: Visionist - Snakes

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Visionist - Snakes

Label: Leisure System

All hail the 4/4, the age of house and techno is upon us. Dubstep and garage have long lost their mojo, juke is too leftfield and ‘bass music’ has sold its soul to the pop machine. Excuse the hyperbole, but however irritatingly trendy house might be at the moment, its hard to argue with the fact that much of today’s most interesting dance music is anchored by a predictable kick drum. Yet as a nation who has always pushed dance music forward, this poses a problem: the UK has relatively little traction in the domains of house and techno. We can make it, we can even shift it up a notch, but genres like garage, grime and dubstep have British DNA flowing through their melodic veins, and a definitive UK sound is missing from today’s underground.

Enter Blackdown and Dusk’s reliable Keysound imprint alongside a slew of fresh producers who are bringing grime into this decade. After a few years in exile, consigned to the twin hells of commercialisation and creative stagnancy, the genre now seems poised to make an impressive comeback – just look at Keysound’s This Is How We Roll compilation for an anatomy of some of the most exhilarating, unpredictable dance music around. Riding the crest of this wave is London’s Visionist, who over the last year has risen from cookiecutter Swamp81 pretender to a genuine threat to your sanity, his ambition climactically validated in a stunning Rinse mix comprised entirely of his own tracks.


Now Visionist takes to Berlin’s Leisure System imprint with some of his best material to date, showing a playful, experimental streak writ large over three seductively off-kilter grime explorations. The EP is certainly a case of variations on a theme, but each effort is so beguilingly unpredictable that no one would criticise for a lack of variety. The grime nods are all over Snakes with its tough kicks and cocked-gun percussion, but Visionist quickly moves away from familiar territory when a seasick vocal and hi-def chimes turn the track into a woozy, unstable trip. Snakebite takes the percussive abstraction a step further, as a disorientating swirl of shots, clicks and colourful 8bit streaks are painted like treacle over a bed of softened bass hits.

Visionist ends the triptych with the most seductive number of the three, the Zomby-esque Poison, where the psychedelic blur of percussion plays second fiddle to a hypnotic system of crystalline synthlines and ghostly chipmunk vocals. While all three tracks approach the same sounds from a different angle, in his finest release to date Visionist has crafted something dangerously vital; a package of slippery future-grime just as likely to disorientate as it is to intoxicate.


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