Available on: Ten Thousand Yen 10″
You Always Start It
xxxy has thus far been one of the most promising lights of the pseudo-garage revival, a wave of (admittedly mostly unrelated) producers working in a nimble, almost fey brand of UK garage mostly divorced from dubstep. But like any promising movement, the garage frontier has been flooded with generic copycats, bedroom producers making barebones tracks that hop over some lazily chopped vocal sample: canned Todd Edwards with none of the silk or finesse.
That being said, there are highlights: Roof Light, Actraiser, and especially xxxy, whose music seems to vaguely fit if you bend the corners enough to wedge it in. But there’s something weighty about the Mancunian’s tracks, more substantive and meaty than the innumerable garage drones floating around out there. xxxy’s distinctive skip hits decisively, lands on reverberant cushions of sub-bass, and is often padded with luxurious dub techno chords or mutant arpeggios. His tracks for Doc Daneeka’s Ten Thousand Yen label – the last in an impressive series of limited ten-inches to kick off the imprint – carry the same anthemic stomp and swagger as previous label singles by CRST, Julio Bashmore, and Venom & Damage.
As hinted at before, xxxy is master of the arpeggiator, a singular virtuosity on show in ‘You Always Start It’, which starts off with those usual blunted kicks, vocal snippets and swollen pseudo-orchestral chords that you might expect. But a hyperspeed arpeggio – sounding more like an angry hummingbird than anything else – flits at the edges, breaking through with a beast of a drop that sends the track into ecstasy overdrive: garagey house rarely sounds this massive or hefty. ‘Ordinary Things’ is perhaps a little more ordinary, shuffling percussion bunched up in the folds of an catch vocal sample that gets completely wringed by — you guessed it — a somersaulting arpeggio. That being said, it’s unfair to reduce his tunes to mere formula, because they’re not; he consistently finds new ways to bend and twist these similar elements time and time again. From these tracks alone it’s clear what sets xxxy apart: strong melodies, strobelight-calibre synths, and beats that pummel with as much impact as the heaviest of classic dubstep. Maybe lumping him in with those other producers isn’t so fair after all.