Posted by: Jimmy For Reals on March 30, 2014
I don’t know if you heard, but Grime is amazing again. Of course you could argue that it was never not amazing, but then you’d be using a double negative and pedants on the internet would be tripping over themselves to tell you about it. Even so you might not be wrong, but the point is that this new wave of Grime is in such ascendant form that it’s amazing by comparison to what it was regardless of how good it might have been. Of course purists might argue that this isn’t Grime at all; despite rolling in with a stock checklist of glacial Strings, gunshots and snippets of London chatter, the once claustrophobic genre has been blown wide open by a diverse range of abstractions and mutations -for my money the best examples being Logos’ devastating 2013 album Cold Mission and SD Laika’s Lost Vectors EP.
At the forefront of this wave has been a core unit fiercely innovative, forward leaning producers, originally based for the most part on Dusk & Blackdown’s Keysound Records. Arguably the most talked about of these producers is Wen, whose lean, vocal flecked reductions have been crushing speaker cones and loosening fillings for a good while now. His intimidating first transmission Hydraulics, a collaboration with New Zealand’s Epoch, was a watershed moment for the fledgling genre – or at least it was in my house, presumably for our neighbours too. Now, a couple of releases down, Wen has dropped his debut album Signals, a mercurial collection of sparse productions that largely eschews the whole Grime aspect for a more Garage focused approach.
It’s a little surprising that he’s taken this direction, considering that until now he’s occupied the very pinnacle of the whole Grime 2.0 thing – even so it’s a devastating collection of tracks, maintaining the much vaunted suspended-weightlessness showcased by his earlier productions, only in a less abstract fashion. For the most part he’s also sidestepped the hallmark of his canon to date, that being the chopped vocal samples that lent his tracks the impression of being garbled pirate radio signals escaping the atmosphere, bouncing off celestial objects and returning to earth in strange and alien forms. Signals comes across more like Burial or Sully than anything he’s produced before, but this oughtn’t detract from a sound which is very much Wen’s own. It doesn’t really seem fair to extract highlights from what is a consistently engaging album, but I feel that Wen works best when playing around with vocals, so we’ve linked videos for In and Play Your Corner so that you can see what all the commotion is about.
Photography by Duncographic.
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