If you have paid much attention to Hyperdub this year, you will have noticed a definite and deliberate effort to elevate their output, LPs especially, to something above a slew of dance tracks. Cooly G, Scratcha DVA, Laurel Halo, Dean Blunt & Inga Copeland and LV have all been behind the label’s careful push away from the straight forward ‘dance music’ tag, each contributing an album involving considerable experiment and home-listening relevance. Two tracks in, it seems Terror Danjah has tried to follow suit.
The intro and then ‘Mirrors Edge’ both throw up an uncharacteristic and awkward combination of piano notes and symphonic chords forced into a grime context. It is not long, fortunately, until Terror Danjah lays aside album formalities and returns to the raw sounds he’s known for – in collaborations with D.O.K, Champion, and most notably Riko Dan.
In ‘Ark Greminz,’ ‘Air Max 90,’ and the Riko Dan version of ‘Dark Crawler,’ Terror Danjah and collaborators serve up three straight-to-the-point club joints; the album’s title track being the pick of the three. When the first 12″ from this album dropped, I hoped more of the tracks would be in this style of dancehall-tainted grime. Sadly not, but, Riko Dan’s ‘Dark Crawler’ will suffice – in one of the stand out tracks of the year, the Roll Deep man does serious damage to Terror Danjah’s beat with an energetic and creative flow.
The madness continues on through ‘Full Hundred’ and the B-side to the aforementioned 12″, ‘Rum Punch.’ Then, two sets of more typically London-sounding MCs don’t quite live up to the standard already set on the ‘Dark Crawler’ beat, and ‘Baby Oil,’ ‘Delicately’ and ‘You Make Me Feel’ provide awkwardly-placed-but-enjoyable timeouts. The album ends with a heavy duty bass cut, ‘Moshino,’ an album outro and an undoubtedly ‘moved’ listener.
Although occasionally accompanied by the uncomfortable air of a grime producer trying too hard to create a listening experience, ‘Dark Crawler’ is serious collection of tracks; which if we review individually is top quality. The instrumentals are, for the most part, as good as anything Terror Danjah has ever made, and the vocals, especially from Riko Dan, are the icing on the cake. It is only minor arrangement and stylistic points that seem off, and I suppose grime isn’t really about that.