Long a mainstay of the UK Funky sound’s broken rhythms, colourful synths and playful arrangement, Roska has been putting increasing distance between himself and the genre over the past couple of years with an ever widening remit. Bristol’s dark and gritty Tectonic was previously perhaps the last place you’d expect to hear the familiar chime of ‘ROSKA…’, but his well-received collaboration with label head honcho Pinch on their 2013 ‘Shoulda Rolla’ EP demonstrated a real propensity for heftier, deeper cuts. His ‘Hyperion’ EP, which shares the same label home, is a similar step into darker territory.
For an EP named after one of the Titans of Ancient Greek mythology, Roska clearly has big intentions. The title track is a slow burner, with its restrained and moody 4×4 aesthetic only receiving the faintest brush of the Roska treatment – its percussive flourishes in particular harking back to his roots in the Funky sound. However it can’t help but sound like a bit forced; this is a stylistic change that doesn’t come very naturally to Roska. Behind its moodiness and frequent otherworldly echoes ‘Hyperion’ progresses at a plodding rate over the course of its 7 minute duration, marching uncomfortably forwards with little sense of space or subtlety.
‘Off’ is more successful, adding much-needed bite to proceedings with pleasingly weighty lurches of low end. It’s abrupt and physical – a dark tune for the murky dancefloors upon which Roska has earned his credentials. ‘Only Human’ operates within a similarly shadowy arena, tentatively bubbling away behind layers of melancholy before erupting into barely controlled, aggressive swells of bass.
Despite being undeniably well produced, once you move past its crisp exterior it’s difficult to find anything to really get your teeth into here; and it ends up sounding more like a transitional release than a fully fleshed out vision.
‘Hyperion’ is out now on Tectonic. Buy it here.