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  • Filed under: Review
  • 05/10/2013

Champion "Hydra Island" b/w "Prince Jammy"

While its place at the center of attention in the dance-music world was fleeting, UK funky's effect on modern club sounds is important, and too often disregarded. Perhaps it was the genre's unfiltered energy—one of the elements that people seemed to fall for from the start—that caused it to burn out as quickly as it did. Or maybe it was because of the way it re-opened our perceptions of garage, grime, and house that it became more of a bridge to new ideas than an endpoint itself. London's Champion is one of the few producers who are still valiantly, faithfully flying the UK funky flag, as demonstrated by his new white-label 12" for his own Formula label.

The default congo drums and flatly reprocessed guitar upstrokes that open "Hydra Island" give way to a careening, blotting bassline. It's easy to imagine Digital Mystikz's Coki having gone in a similar direction. Of course, the minimalist, grounded percussion of classic dubstep isn't present on Champion's tune; instead, there's a more outright lean toward the kinds of off-kilter, wide-spanning syncopation and shuffle that make for a lethal groove. "Hydra Island" ends with an exhilarating blast of bassline gymnastics that completely succeeds in its modest dancefloor intentions.

Though it's only 30 seconds longer than the a-side, "Prince Jammy" definitely drags somewhat on the flip, largely due to its wider array of elements not marrying so well. It's a rave tune though—the kind where DJs mix with restless speed and sweaty palms slap the low ceiling. The bassline boasts a similar blend of blunt force and cat-like agility, but the end product of its interplay with the eager, broken rhythms isn't as engaging as "Hydra Island." A bit of the vital energy which drives some of the best UK funky—not to mention Champion's sound itself (demonstrated best in the wild, blaring "Lighter")—is lost in the cleaner production of the 12", but the two tracks nonetheless prove that the genre's power hasn't disappeared completely.

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