Hyponik

Review: Various Artists – Kerne Volume 1 (Kerne)

There’s a standard list of Danish merits taking credit for the world-beating happiness of the country’s population. In Aarhus, Denmark’s second city, record-obsessed collective Regelbau have also contributed a fair dose of national serotonin. It started as a record buying consortium, where members would chip in to ship records in bulk from abroad. When they started producing their own brand of buoyant house in 2015 its members soon expanded to release music under a maze of aliases, establishing various labels to do so. Central and Sports, as well as being brothers, are probably the most prolific artists, being at least partially responsible for the Regelbau, 2bitcrew and NoHands labels.

There’s much to love in the labyrinthine back catalogue, and not just house. Personal highlights include DJ Sports’ lush jungle experiment “For Real For You” on Firecracker, HiMount and CK’s smooth-as-you-like gospel sample on Regelbau 05, and everything by Maizena, a supergroup of the Aarhus producers tending to a more organic sound. 

Overall they’re an understated bunch. No grand artistic statements here. Just records in a healthy but hard to define niche, and a lot of them. They also have a skill for compiling EPs, combining stylistically mature tracks with subtle, yet attention-grabbing melodies and samples. 

So it is with their latest imprint, Kerne, advertised as taking a more “bass-heavy” angle. The opening three-track EP features Central and Sports, again under new aliases, drawing on dub and dubstep influences. 

First though, on the A-side, we get a snappy contribution from Copenhagen-based pal, Perko. The Scottish producer has already played around, within and between genres. His album City Rings on NMBRS won praise for separately executing electro, dub, and dubstep. Here, “Connection” is so pleasing because it’s hard to put a finger on. The beat that starts it has all the jump of footwork; the bassline throb roots it in the UK; ricocheting flourishes give it texture; a dispassionate vocal adds mystery. Then a mid-track transformation lifts it as we are given a dulcet hook to hang on to. It’s a touch that sees Perko slide seamlessly into the Regalbau register.  

N-Vert’s “Downspin” is restrained but quintessential dubstep, and perhaps the least ambitious of the three. But the palette does take some sideways steps – waterlogged drums give it that extra sinking, stretched-out feel – and the production is as tight as you could want. That it brings to mind dubstep of days gone by is compliment enough. 

Finally, on “L.M.K,” DJ ID, takes us to submarine level dub. The sonar bleeps as it searches the depths. Broken signals come back: a siren call beckons you. That siren is Aaliyah’s sublime vocal from Let Me Know (At Your Best), sampled here with a delicate touch. You won’t hear the full thing from DJ I.D, who merely teases it, then lets it fall away again into the icy depths. The build is jagged, indirect. And the drop is subtle. 

This track is its own supreme signal and a rich showcase for the versatility of these Danish producers. It’s a fine way to cap off a release that promises a new strand to Regelbau’s output.

Tracklist: 

A1. Perko – Connection
B1. N-Vert – Downspin
B2. DJ I.D – L.M.K

Kerne Volume 1 is out now. 

Grab it here

Words: Thomas Lewis 

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