For anyone who knows their electronic onions, Untold, Ramadanman, Fantastic Mr Fox and James Blake are all key architects of an increasingly diverse post dubstep landscape. Uniting them, apart from the quality of their digital output, is Hemlock Records.
Co-run by Untold, this imprint has provided all the above artists with their first platform from which to poke their heads above the electronic parapet and see what else is shaking. In many cases it’s been nothing as exciting as the electronica they’ve been brewing themselves which is why every Hemlock record has had such an impact. With this pedigree of breaking new talent, it’s no surprise that the label’s tenth release arrives almost bloated with the weight of expectation.
London’s Breton are next in line to take on the Hemlock baton and their ‘Counter Balance EP’ certainly ticks all the right boxes for tastemakers. The likes of ‘RDI’ and ‘Counter Balance’ meld a satisfyingly crunchy post-dubstep skronk with the math rock rhythms of 65 Days of Static or Foals. ‘December”s musical skeleton is based around more hip-hop-esque beats before a skinny, yet catchy lather of indie yelps is applied.
The music within ‘Counter Balance’ certainly adds up to a bold fusion of contemporary sound for a band only just launching their first proper label release – it follows two self-released Eps and a glut of short films and music videos – plus one of these records came with a circuit board instructions on how to make a fully working synth. Breton certainly can’t be accused of lacking in ambition and the EP offers a diverting yet accessible signpost to what may lie ahead as band look to new electronics for influence.
But despite packing a potent musical punch, Breton’s amalgamation of guitars and electronics is so now they’re almost in danger of appearing manufactured. While Katy B and Magnetic Man take dubstep firmly into the charts, Breton are pulling the other way and into the indie boy’s bedroom and, while the sharp beats and guitar noodles certainly resemble an A&R man’s wet dream, at times their music never transcends the sum of its parts. Whatever your verdict, major labels must be aligning their cross hairs and taking aim at Breton as we speak.