Kowton v Dusk EP

Kowton & Dusk – ‘Kowton v Dusk’ EP (Keysound Recordings)

Bristol has long since rivalled the UK’s capital for bass music talent, building on its heritage of electronica to throw up some of the more exciting releases of the last 10 years. With this EP, the two cities pool a couple of their most prestigious resources, Joe ‘Kowton’ Cowton and Dan ‘Dusk’ Frampton, to put on a stunning show of collaborative skill. The release may bear the oppositional “v” in its title, but this is no head-to-head throw down: more like two producers on top of their games sharing some wax space for our enjoyment.

Dusk’s ‘Fraction’ gets things started, bubbling up with one of the bouncy 2-step rhythms that permeates his work alongside Blackdown – best heard on the duo’s acclaimed Margins Music album from 2008. The track has a sinister vibe, with ominous piano tinkling over synths straight off the Halloween soundtrack, and its insistent barrage of beats raises feelings of unease right down to the pulsing sub-bass.

Kowton approaches to take the baton by laying out his reworking of ‘Fraction’, switching the original’s unrelenting rhythms with his own more toned down reading while losing none of the spook. Echoing laughter and tight, choked hi-hats round it off, before Kowton strides out on his own with ‘Looking At You’. Here the Bristol man chops, slices and rearranges vocals in a way reminiscent of Joe Goddard’s track-of-the-year contender ‘Gabriel’ over a similarly hypnotic house production. Discordant chords and plenty of builds and drops provide interest, and the minimal arrangement complements the EP’s denser opening gambit nicely.

The release is out on Blackdown and Dusk’s own Keysound Recordings (the imprint that’s home to LV, Scratcha DVA and Sully), laying down a marker of the label’s intentions in 2012 in a move that seems to say “producers – up your game”.

Tom Quickfall

The ‘Kowton v Dusk’ EP is released via Keysound Recordings on January 9.