Black Chow – Wonderland EP (Jahtari)

King Midas Sound co-conspirators Kevin “The Bug” Martin and Osaka-based vocalist Kiki Hitomi are back with devastating side project Black Chow, following up a number of recent features on Hyperdub and Soul Jazz Records compilations with a 12” EP, ‘Wonderland’.

A psychotic mix of 8-bit dub and haunting melodies, the EP is essentially a split single with instrumentals and a heavy-hitting remix of the title track from French-based Stand High Patrol Sound System man Pupajim.

A steamy blend of synth dub and Hitomi’s eerie wail, ‘Wonderland’ requires constant rotation in the lead up to the hotter months: not quite as soporific as last year’s ‘Air’ from the Soul Jazz compilation Future Bass, but with just as much of a hydroponic haze seeping from its disorientating two-chord progression and deep-in-the-cut groove. Martin’s rib-rattling productions and Hitomi’s siren-like Japanese vocals are so naturally balanced that it would be misguided to call their collaboration a fusion. Pupajim joins in on ‘Signs’, riding the same track with a falsetto melody that at times brings to mind the late Tenor Saw’s seminal ‘Golden Hen’, resulting in an colossal version that goes beyond a remix.

‘Danger’ is the perfect companion to ‘Wonderland’, an 8-bit blip of a synth line giving way to another unhurried skank, with Hitomi’s ominous cry of the track’s title sounding far more than a lyrical place holder. With a bassline in danger of removing a large portion of plaster from the ceiling of the room below, this is prime evidence of just how much of a destructive combination Martin and Hitomi can be. ‘Danger’s’ 8-bit feel is mirrored in the EP’s artwork; all disconcerting ‘80s computer game characters and a demonic game of space invaders designed by Hitomi herself. A fitting finishing touch to a heavyweight all-round package.

Tom Quickfall