As Girl Unit, Philip Gamble is perhaps the most lauded name on Night Slugs’ fawned-over roster, bending Bass music, House, Footwork and Southern Hip-Hop into mesmerising new shapes in high definition. As Hysterics he plays more within the structures of four-on-the-floor club music, but his primary influences are still in place: the project’s manifesto might as well be his 2013 mix for DIS Magazine, where label mates Jam City and Nguzunguzu rubbed up against Dave Clarke and Robert Hood.
Hysterics’ high point to date is the Club Mix of 2013’s ‘Code Switch’, which submerged the original’s Jersey club motifs beneath a Carl Craig-ian drive. Coming packaged in that inimitable Night Slugs glaze, which can never quite decide whether it’s murk or sheen, the result was something like a crueller, colder Nexus 21. But if the freneticism of this EP’s opener ‘Club Life’ also recalls Bleep, its fixation on rhythm sits somewhere between two of Gamble’s key influences – the later manifestations of British Hardcore, and skittering Chicago Juke. The track is the epitome of a grower, initially coming off as undercooked before revealing itself on repeat listens as a scheming, constructed body mover.
As that lead track’s title suggests, this is an EP concerned very much with the reality of club-going. With its slow climb, unexpected release and rebuild, ‘Eye Mask’ is a Techno DJ set in miniature. Gamble even sees the laconic ‘Empty’ as a post-club meditation. Ironically, it’s also the sort of track that might make the more determined stay on the dancefloor, artfully teasing out satisfaction from its vocal snatches and bass punch.
‘HTRX9’ offers the year’s best ‘womp’ so far but gives it no time to settle, with the explosive synths and bassline recalling the new wave of instrumental Grime and Barnt’s 2014-conquering ‘Chappell’, respectively. Accordingly, it’s the closest the EP comes to what one might consider the core Night Slugs aesthetic.
It can feel like something is missing here; as if by playing at refinement, the Hysterics project is somehow inauthentic. There’s little of the spectacle of Gamble’s work as Girl Unit or the masterful treatment of space that underpinned the titanic ‘Wut’. The same ethereal quality is present though: this is full-on Techno reimagined in the mind of a dreamy punter at 4am. In that sense, it’s as authentic as they come. Deep down, this is what we actually hear.
‘Hysterics’ is out now on Night Slugs. Buy it here.