Dusk + Blackdown set up Keysound recordings back in 2005 as a platform to get their own productions out in the world, leading to releases for Starky, Skream and last year’s notable full lenths for Sully, Damu, LHF and LV & Josh Idehen. On top of their label duties Blackdown is a successful music journalist and the pair have hosted a show on Rinse since 2008, reportedly scanning 500 tracks a month to bring the freshest selection to the airwaves. It’s fair to say that these two know their onions.
Fortunately for us, their collective knowledge and understanding is put to good use as they return to Keysound with their new album ‘Dasaflex’, taking in a variety of the sites and sounds of bass culture with referential dexterity and a clear dedication to pushing their beloved styes forward.
Opener ‘Lonely Moon (Android Heart)’ feels its way into the album with a soothing dub rhythm that stays firmly in second gear, allowing Farrah’s vocals to soar gently up and down to make a track that acts like a blanket of audio to roll up in half-awake. This is followed by the single ‘High Road’ which caused much a stir for the officially hinted at and widely accepted presence of Burial, the off-kilter woodblocks and dynamic flow marking a cameo amongst the dystopian urban backdrop that’s captured by an angst filled 4 note pattern and eased slightly by occasional vocal touches.
Whereas ‘High Road’ feels uneasy, ‘Wicked Vibes’ paints a carnival picture with its air horns, enlivening drum sequences, lifting synths and the rallying cries of the legendary MC GQ. Title track ‘Dasaflex’ lays down some bouncey and melodic UK funky that uses a well-crafted structure to builds its elements together with real dance floor flavour. Next up things get grimey as Shantie joins the fray on ‘Next Generation’, a bolshy tune that treads heavily on deep bass notes and a percussive arrangement that almost works against the track to generate an energetic sense of unease.
‘R in Zero G’ takes the foot off the gas as a host of drum samples, vocal ripples, popping effects and grinding riffs play off each other with perfect balance, the space left in between enhancing their cosmic effect and showing a real touch of precision. ‘Hypergrime’ follows like a beefed up older brother, the space now filled with bass and a heightened sense of urgency while the interplay of elements continues to entertain.
Before it’s done there’s still time for some juke-ish drums to add some menace to the warped notes of ‘Defocused’ while closing track ‘Fraction’ brings the drum programming to the fore in a trippy excursion across skittering, interwoven percussion and a bed of rolling subs.
Bringing together much of what we love in bass music over the last couple of years, Dusk + Blackdown have made an album that speaks of their immersion in the culture and displays the mature producing skills they have to back up their acquired knowledge. They may not reach the dizzying heights of some of their contemporaries, but in ‘Dasaflex’ they have an album of genuine quality.