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White Noise: Etch - Old School Methods

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Etch - Old School Methods

Label: Keysound

Of the groups piecing together the shards of dubstep’s remains, Dusk and Blackdown’s Keysound imprint aren’t just leading the way – they’ve practically lapped the competition. As discussed in last month’s Visionist review, the stable have rejected the steady onslaught of the 4/4 on the UK scene, pushing forward vital new blends of grime, garage and dubstep under the loose banner of ‘dark 130'. After lending a platform to shining new talents Beneath, Wen and Visionist, Keysound offer up another strong debut courtesy of Etch, who brings a distinct junglist edge to his tough compositions.


The EP kicks off with its strongest player in the form of Hybrid, a heady blend of choppy melodics, thundering bass hits and classic vocal cuts. The pace is frenetic and the rhythm is rude as they come, but Etch handles the disparate elements with a masterful hand: the soundfield bristles with life without ever feeling cluttered. Next J-One joins the fray for Sounds, whose 2step woodblock pattern feels blissfully gentle by comparison, twinned with subtle melodies and drifting vocal snips.

On the B-side, Sphynx steps back into the darkness, as vocals straight out of an old ‘ardcore tape are stitched to another expert 2step rhythm, adorned by surgical break cuts and dreamy pads. Finally Lost Methods incorporates menacing DnB bass swipes, resulting in a potent concoction with as much emphasis on white space as on the sounds themselves. Sounds’ recurring vocal line, “whenever we hear sounds / we are changed, we are no longer the same,” could be viewed as nothing more than a truism, but for Etch it feels particularly apt. Here is a producer who has listened to the UK’s hardcore past, has been changed by it, who now revitalises those sounds to change others, perpetuating the cycle. Music that changes people that change music that changes.


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