Available on: Sonic Router EP
Earlier this year the reputable Sonic Router blog took that big scary (or not quite so scary, if you’ve read this) step into the world of running a record label. They did so in a quietly remarkable fashion with the debut EP from Dutch producer Torus: a cassette tape of six downtempo cuts that continues to find its way into my ears on hazy hungover mornings and docile nights. It was music aimed almost exclusively for headphone listeners, and in contrast, either consciously or not, the second release from Sonic Router – another debut, this time from 19-year-old Brummy Matthew Evans, a.k.a Wattville – has its eyes set firmly on the club floor with a 12” slab of percussion and bass-heavy tunes that draw influence from that increasingly broad realm of dance music that the blog has long championed.
On the A-side, Evans seems to be taking a similar path as Bobby Champs did on his recent ‘Moonlight’ release, by crafting what are essentially DJ tools and injecting them with less obvious vocal samples and leftfield melodies, helping to distinguish them from the usual fodder. ‘We Jostle’ is pretty straight forward UK Funky-inspired 4/4, but its rattlesnake shakers and increasingly drunken pitched drums in the latter half give it that memorable swirl that hits you somewhere near wherever that rum and coke went. Likewise ‘Etching’ breaks loose from its kick-driven dubstep foundation with wonky low-end stabs that recall some of Hessle’s early output. Though it’s not quite as fun as ‘We Jostle’, it also doesn’t make any attempt to evoke it, instead larging up the eyes-down crew which dubstep almost completely abandoned years ago.
But it’s that giddy wonkyness that really shines through on this EP. The flip sees Wattville fully showcase the intricacies of his intricate percussion talents in ‘Clan‘, a festival of rolling tribal drums, sporadic vocal chants and at once subtle and booming sub transmissions. While many tracks utilising staccato rhythms can sometimes sound irritating, ’Clan’ benefits from a thoughtful and lush mixdown that washes each hit nicely. It’s also the perfect platform for New York trio Archie Pelago to further boost the track’s percussive vibrancy, with a kaleidoscopic, jazz-licked “overtop”. Like the swirling finish to ’We Jostle’, Pelago’s remix descends into a sort of sleazy, drunken stupor. It’s hypnotic, and despite its obvious musicality (these are real instruments we‘re dealing with, remember those?), sounds just as dancefloor-friendly as the rest of the EP.