Saturday, 18 September 2010

xxxy - 'Every Step Forward' EP (ELIM005)

The 'Every Step Forward' EP represents the work of an artist whose production work is improving upon every release. xxxy has been busy in terms of production this year, having releases on the Mindset and Infrasonics labels, as well as a future release on the brilliant Brighton based Well Rounded label. 'Every Step Forward' is released on the relatively new Fortified Recordings, a Glasgow-based label run by Electric Eliminators which supports high quality dance music. This is a vow they have kept to with 'Every Step Forward', which shows progression in xxxy's production techniques, with the 4 tracks on the EP blending between house/garage/dubstep. Without doubt his best work to date.

The opening track 'This Much' immediately kicks things into action, a 6 minute epic. The track has the slow building progression associated with house music, with the shuffling garage beat and warm house chords that rise with every last beat providing the basis of the track. These elements slowly build alongside one another as well as the emotional wailing female vocal clips, which adds further to the sense of a mournful edge in the track. The bassline begins to rumble beneath these elements, and does so most effectively when the lovely acid melody is introduced after 2 minutes. This sets the track in full swing, a cut which will no doubt be a killer on the dancefloor at the end of sets, something it's 140 bpm tempo ensures. A track tinged with a sorrowful tone provided most effectively through disembodied diva vocals crying beautifully "you love someone this much", yet one which is lifted by it's swinging beat and warm chords, this track is emotional music made with the dancefloor in mind. 

'Just For Me' is another very strong production, and a complex on that. It begins immediately with the manipulated vocal chants which are well arranged, layered on top of a syncopated swinging beat and handclaps as well as a soft house chord motif. A surging bassline is introduced after 1 minute, as well as a interesting 808 drum pattern which recalls the work of Addison groove after 1 min 50 secs. From here on in the track becomes more regimented and structured in it's style, something which reaches its height when the track reaches 3 minutes and chants of 'Just For Me' are repeated over a the lovely drum pattern and distinct acid basslines. The wonderful warm house melody is reintroduced not long after this point, providing a nice foil to the harder sounds of the beat and bass. A well produced track, that experiments with styles and does so successfully.

'Turn' is the track which most fits the genre of UK garage most suitably. It starts unexpectedly with a flurry of synths which sound similar to the works of Zomby. This surging sea of synths is cleverly worked into a skittery garage beat, which provides the track an appeal with garage heads. This is an appeal which is further cemented when the beautiful arranged 4-note piano melody is placed in direct contrast to the frantic synths which are forever constant. 'Turn' isn't 'future garage', it's purely UK garage in 2010, a past genre which seems to be resurging with speed today (C.R.S.T, Falty DL, George FitzGerald etc...). 'Flew' is more indebted to the realms of dub-techno, with a strong syncopated rhythm and a myriad of synth work. The sparse beat is backed with  bubbling synths that draw some similarity to those heard in A Made Up Sound's past work. This is placed in conjunction with a repetitive vocal clip and a dub chord melody that fits perfectly with the rhythm and vocal work.

'Every Step Forward' experiments and combines different styles of UK bass music, and xxxy shows a skill and a certain confidence in doing so. The tracks are both suited to home listening as they are to being included in DJ sets for underground clubs in London, Bristol etc. xxxy has created a brilliant EP that shows a step forward in his work, a unique combination of house, garage, and dubstep that results in emotional dance music. You can preview/purchase the EP on MP3 or 12" by clicking here. Enjoy.

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