Electronic producers can’t seem to get enough of nostalgia these days. Some of the biggest releases over the past couple of years – along with their creators – now owe their elitist status to the traditional r’n’b samples that have been lying stagnant for years, only to be resurrected and sonically restructured, culminating in an almighty surge of CMYK sound-a-likes and the development of the ‘future garage’ sound.
The latter is just one retrospective theme that runs through Machine Gun Militia’s debut EP on Nottingham based fledgling label Oeuvre records – a collection of spatial, dark rhythms reminiscent of early garage and dubstep. Opener ‘Never Forget’ kick’s off with a lengthy, ominous intro echoing the tense nature of Loefah’s earlier work and dropping into a steady groove at 120 bpm whilst the dense bass lines and ghostly saxophone samples that run through ‘Bad Dreams’ could be mistaken for a classic El-B offering.
Whilst the presence of these influences is by no means a bad thing, there are moments during the EP that seem slightly reluctant to adopt a slightly more progressive musical outlook. There’s a lack of structure to ‘Machine Gun’ that makes it almost tedious, with just one, mechanical bass line to keep the listener entertained and although the bizarrely named ‘Haters Be Mad Hating Lost in Space’ provides some promise, it all feels just a little bit stuck in the past.
Herein lies the risk of looking backwards. The trend of implementing the past into the present will always require the ability not just to re-use the best of what has been, but to strip a sound of all it’s original components and transform it into something new. And although ‘Open Fire’ lacks this essential element, there are still a good few promising moments – early days for both a developing artist and label trying to find their sound.
‘Open Fire’ is available now via Oeuvre Records.