Kowton – ‘Whities 002’ (Whities)

Inaugurated earlier in the year with a limited release 12″ from unheralded duo Terron, Young Turks affiliated imprint Whities have taken a slightly different approach with their sophmore outing. Run by Boiler Room presenter/all around man about town Nic Tasker, it was perhaps only a matter of time before the label pulled out a big gun, with the acquisition of Kowton for ‘Whites002’ constituting an impressive coup. After earning the respect of his peer group and the record buying public alike over the last few years, the now London-based producer has enjoyed a quiet 2014 by his standards – with little in the way of original material hitting the shelves. Here across three tracks though he rounds off the year with an emphatic -and barely needed, reminder of his talents.

The entirety of the A-Side is given over to ‘Glock & Roll’ – a punnily monikered cut that instantly generated buzz when it featured in Joy Orbison’s Essential Mix over the summer. Whereas the biggest hits of Kowton’s scorching hot run last year were largely defined by bare faced aggression and a nigh-on omnipresent level of sonic grit, what’s most striking about ‘Glock & Roll’ is just how smooth it sounds. Spoken of in relation to Kowton, ‘smoothness’ is of course a relative concept – and long running fans can rest assure that he’s not gone ‘Disclosure’ on us, with the primal thump of the rhythm section quickly allaying any such fears. The star of the show here however is the synthesized glockenspiel which forms the track’s lead line and provides a simplistic yet earwormy hook. An uncomonly melodious touch from an artist generally defined by his brutality, its an impressive display of range.

The flip plays host to ‘Bits & Pieces’ and ‘Doing Nothing’, with the former finding Kowton returned to his familiar level of intensity for the track’s opening half. A glitching whirr of industial sourced sounds, it moves forward with steely purpose and careful progression until it halts at the two minute mark for a breakdown and the introduction of icy digitial keys. The frosty ambience these bring is present for the remainder, as the rhythm is rebuilt from the ground up. Its an interesting and emotive turn, although there is the lingering feeling that it comes at the expense of the visceral pleasures hinted at during the track’s start.

‘Doing Nothing’ finishes up the release, with its opening bars an exercise in taut Grime-referencing paranoia thanks to the syncopated loop of electronic plucked strings and warped vocal samples. These claustrophobic affectations are thrown into the next gear with the arrival of a barrage of kicks and a spray of broken glass hi-hats. Settling into a propulsive and dissonant groove that frequently borders on feral, ‘Doing Nothing’ is the most instantly floor ready of the three. Classifying these, ‘post-everything’ club cuts cuts in to any kind of discernible genre bracket is by now a futile exercise, but what remains clear with ‘Whities 002’ is that when it comes to electronic music in this country, few are doing it better than Kowton.

‘Whities 002’ is out now on vinyl, and on digital shortly. Buy it here.

Christian Murphy