Series I by I 09.05.22

Fact Mix 858: Low End Activist

Low End Activist captures a sound that is not so much dark as it is low-lit, amplifying raw emotion over melancholy, ferocity over aggression.

Between heading up his own, self-titled imprint, running the vital “modernist hardcore” label Sneaker Social Club, bringing the moodiest sounds from UK rave to Lovefingers’ ESP Institute as Patrick Conway, collaborating with Appleblim as Trinity Carbon and consistently delivering some of the deepest, darkest basement club anthems around, Low End Activist continually proves himself to be an essential artist, archivist and architect, operating at the front lines of the contemporary face of the hardcore continuum. On his breakout 2019 release, Low End Activism, the producer drew enduring power and crackling electricity from a 1988 VHS recording of the Muzikon Sound System, captured on the Blackbird Leys housing estate in Oxford, where Low End Activist grew up. Citing a city divided between some of the UK’s most privileged and some of its most deprived, the powerful unity of the multi-ethnic, working class community of the Blackbird Leys estate and a uniquely intense sound that shirks darkness and despair for defiance and jubilation, it’s clear that this same energy influences everything Low End Activist turns his hand to, the rough ecstasy of Muzikon’s cacophonous rhythms and joyful MCs echoing in all of his productions. Most urgently, he reflects on his relationship to soundsystem culture on his new album, Hostile Utopia, which pairs blistering bass pressure with thrilling features from Mez, Emz, Killa P and Cadence Weapon, each running roughshod over the producer’s singular sound.

“The mix is a snapshot of a typical Low End Activist club set, 88 – 160 bpm,” the producer explains. “Shouts to Henzo, Cando, FFT and MINDER for the unreleased heat. I also included some soon to be released Sneaker Social Club bits from Alan Johnson and Trends, Boylan & Slimzee, as well as some recently bounced projects of my own. Shoehorned together at Pirate studios here in Berlin and some final tweaks in Ableton.” Setting the tone with the sparse percussive tick and resolutely fucked, 1000-tonne bass of an unreleased Henzo weapon, Low End Activist takes turns lolloping and barreling through a smoked-out, heads-down selection of some of the heaviest dancehall, dub, dubstep, grime, techno, UKG and hardcore, piling fresh heat from Zoë McPherson, Josi Devil, VTSS and Katatonic Silentio on top of modern classics from Kowton, Source Direct and Surgeon, moving deftly from the alien dub and paranoid pressure of Time Cow, Equiknoxx and Low Jack to ice cold grime from Trim and Flowdan. It’s the mix’s final sequence that best illustrates the weighty tension between intensity and ecstasy, defiance and celebration, that Low End Activist continually draws from, a sound that is not so much dark as it is low-lit, amplifying raw emotion over melancholy, ferocity over aggression. The transcendent breakbeats of The Brothers Grimm’s iconic hardcore anthem ‘Exodus’ triggers a sweat-drenched victory lap through the producer’s own mutant hardcore constructions, Boylan’s satanic take on Logos’ perennial ‘Glass,’ FFT on a deadly, vaporized grime deconstruction, before levelling out into the always unplaceable textures of Autechre’s ‘Stud,’ a track that, fittingly, contains some of the most emotional low end headfuckery ever recorded.

You can find Low End Activist on Instagram, Bandcamp and SoundCloud. His latest album, Hostile Utopia, is out on June 17 via Sneaker Social Club.

Tracklist:

Henzo – ‘Who Knows What’s On’
Zoë McPherson – ‘Alva’
Josi Devil – ‘The Devil’s Dance’
Time Cow – ‘Chipheads Dub’
Low Jack – ‘Lasers’
Cando – ‘Release The Bees’
VTSS – ‘Trust Me’
Blazer Sound System – ‘Heaven’s Gate’
Kowton – ‘Basic Music Knowledge’
Katatonic Silentio – ‘Pow Snake’
MINDER – ‘A.N.P.R’ [Feat. Korron & Harrison]
Henzo – ‘Is Find Never Mind’
Jo Rae – ‘EG20EG’
Alan Johnson – ‘Stillness’
Source Direct – ‘Black Rose (Blawan Remix)’
Commix – ‘Change (A Made Up Sound Remix)’
Trim – ‘Man Like Me’
SP:MC – ‘Inside Looking Out’
Surgeon – ‘Bad Hands Break’
Mosca – ‘From Ere Til Eternity’
Equiknoxx – ‘Congo Get Slap (Mark Ernestus Remix)’
Wen – ‘Swerv’
Aardvarck – ‘Monkey See…’
Kamran – ‘Zero G’
Kyle Hall – ‘Girl U So Strong’
Trends, Boylan & Slimzee – ‘NinetyNine’
Flowdan – ‘Plans In Motion (Marcus Visionary Remix)’
The Brothers Grimm – ‘Exodus’
Low End Activist – ‘Airdrop 3’
Low End Activist – ‘Airdrop 1’
Logos – ‘Glass (Boylan Devils Mix)’
FFT – ‘???’
Autechre – ‘Stud’

Listen next: Fact Mix 857 – Sarra Wild

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