When it comes to musical vultures, it’s usually those who peck and preen on the outskirts who prick the curious listener’s conscious the most. This is certainly a case in point with Ninja Tune’s recent signing, Slugabed. Dubstep and the all encompassing ‘bass’ music business may now be co-opted by Topman, Britney Spears and daytime radio, but it’s unlikely that they’re going to wrap their shackles around the young Brighton-based producer. On the evidence of this first EP for the label, which recently celebrated 20 years of championing electronic free spirits, he’s the musical equivalent of a mad man living under the stairs. The beats and bubbles he deals in are too leftfield and too raw for the ears of the high street just yet.
Slugabed, or the Bath-born Greg Feldwick to his mum, is a name who initially lurched into the periscopes of tastemakers through his remixes; he smothered Roots Manuva’s classic ‘Witness’ in aural jelly, then crocked its legs before sending it off back into the dance. It wobbles like a proud yet pissed father at the wedding of a beloved offspring, sounding like he’s constantly on the brink of collapse – yet always just about keeping his balance. Reworks of La Roux’s ‘In For The Kill’ and Pharoahe Monche’s ‘Simon Says’ have all benefited from a similar resheafing in stumbling bass bin business.
The ‘Moonbeam Rider EP’ is Slugabed’s first on Ninja Tune, and offers glimpses of a variety of musical hats the man wears, somehow straddling the lines of noise between austere electronica, head nodding hip-hop and a seering love for all things big, bass-filled and bouncy. This musical quick sand owes a little to Hudson and LA-based beat makers like Flying Lotus, yet arrives with enough wibble, wobble and a fine lace of melody to stand out as his own. Elsewhere ‘Nu Krak Swing’ is more in debt to 80s P-Funk with added handclaps, ‘Heck Flex’s coat is fashioned from a hybrid of trance and ‘Purple’, which proceeds to bubble over with ideas, fun and funk. Starkey, Hudson and Prefuse 73 are all starting points for a frame of reference but Slugabed quickly gobbles them down before moving onto the next. He’s managed to make an EP which sounds like he’s chucked the kitchen sink at it – yet still beams ear to ear with clever, danceable tunes. This is British electronica at its kaleidoscopic, technicolour best.
‘Moonbeam Rider EP’ is released through Ninja Tune on June 6.