Bristol, a city with an undeniably rich history in electronic music, struck again in 2006 with the formation of Punch Drunk Records. The imprint serves to highlight the burgeoning dubstep movement in the genre’s biggest home outside the UK capital, releasing work from such luminaries as Shackleton, Pinch and label owner Peverelist. Its latest triumph comes in the shape of Kahn, a producer already established on the city’s dj circuit, who releases his debut for the label, the 12” split ‘Like we Used to/Helter Skelter’. A riotous mix of dubstep production sensibilities and mature compositional poise, the release sets a new benchmark for the contemporaries of the able Bristolian.
‘Helter Skelter’ drills an insistent synth reminiscent of Gold Panda’s ‘Snow & Taxis’ deep into the rhythm centres of the brain, layering beats indebted to old 2-step styles over sufficiently deep sub frequencies. Kahn’s skill of maintaining the track’s danceable qualities while simultaneously wreaking organised synth havoc is impressive. The business end of this release, however, can be found on the flipside in the shape of the glorious ‘Like we Used To’; a strong contender for the year’s first dubstep cult classic. Chopped vocal samples, occasionally forming the track’s title among nonsensical syllables, sit atop a melancholic groove, both nostalgic and futuristic in nature, but it quickly becomes clear that the track is quite literally breathing, from synths that rhythmically inhale and exhale underneath pulsating beats, to the breathy vocal slices that gasp for air. The result is an exultant production, hopefully one indicative of what else might be to come from this exciting new producer.
‘Like We Used To / Helter Skelter’ is released through Punch Drunk Records on 28th February.