Funkystepz – ‘Fuller / Hurricane Riddim’ (Hyperdub)

UK Funky may be less of an exciting prospect than it was this time last year, but this young North london collective prove that there’s at least a twitch of life left in the old (by 21st century standards) beast. Nothing groundbreaking here – just a refined deployment of the scene’s most successful rhythmic and sonic tropes, sure to roll out nicely on dancefloors across the capital. Given Hyperdub’s position as gatekeepers of the London
subculture, though, this record seems an odd choice to represent UKF 2011 to the wider world – particularly when held up against stonking 12”s from the likes of Cooly G, Ill Blu and Scratcha in the label’s 2010 catalogue.

‘Fuller’ is the marginally aggier of the two, with a potentially migraine-inducing lead line churning over its stripped-back kick’n’snap template. In true Hyperdub style, the earworming effect of this one is not to be underestimated. Expect to be humming it as you pound the tubes at rush hour.

On the flip, ‘Hurricane Riddim’ is the seemingly mandatory orchestral number (rash use of MIDI strings is not something this writer can support), scrolling through various piano and strings-led arrangements without ever quite blowing your mind. Not to say that the track lacks bump, though, and the level of detail is notable in a scene often criticised by outsiders for its low production values.

Both tracks steer away from the hype and bass drop-led structures so dear to much of UK bass music – perhaps a nod to the more “mature” global house stylings currently intruding on the scene – but seem to be at a loss as to where to place their emphasis instead. The result is some nice ideas, woefully underdeveloped – one of those DJ tools that will slowly but surely recede into the dustier corners of your collection.

Angus Finlayson