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  • Filed under: Review
  • 03/19/2013

DJ Rashad Rollin'

Hyperdub has long been known as a forward-thinking outpost, yet the label hasn't really delved into juke and footwork, even after the initial waves of new attention to those genres swelled up around 2010. One could come up with a multitude of reasons as to why it hasn't released more of this kinetic, futuristic music, from industry competition to compatibility with the label's sound. In any case, Hyperdub has now changed course and contracted scene kingpin DJ Rashad for Rollin', an EP which proves that the producer and his collaborators—two of whom, DJ Manny and DJ Spinn, appear here—have not let a rise in profile go to their heads.

Still, Rashad and his Teklife crew have at times been charged with making a streamlined, formalist sort of footwork, especially compared to the rebellious young producers showcased on Planet Mu's Bangs & Works compilations. Rollin' is not dissimilar to his recent efforts, as it's been finished with a crisp fidelity and is laced with samples of rap and R&B. On the title track, Rashad pans crystalline softness amid halftime drums before he cautiously teases out footwork's signature stumble. The pitch-shifted vocal sample is initially about lost love and "rolling back" to someone, but soon a male interjects, after "rolling," with "off the molly," shifting the tenor of the track to the druggy. It's a disorienting switch in focus, and coupled with twinkling, transposed arpeggiations, it's plain to hear why Hyperdub signed it. "Let It Go," meanwhile, makes a fine case for the furthering of footwork/jungle crossover, as Rashad implements breaky, rolling drums, elegiac pads, and a wailing, melancholy vocal. It's almost harder picking out the parts not influenced by UK rave music, but the Chicagoan influences, particularly in the track's stuttering drum patterns, eventually reveal themselves once the tune's second half drops the breaks. "Drums Please," Rashad's collaboration with DJ Manny, does what its title asks. It's an absolute onslaught of snares, complemented by minor organ chords and cut down the middle by a shrill, plastic synth melody. For all its excitement, it is perhaps the most even-keeled, symmetrical track here, a true showcase of the duo's dexterity. DJ Spinn, as may be expected, lends "Broken Hearted" some of his trademark soul flavor. There's good reason to believe the swirling melodies and vocal samples are his doing, as they convey a heartfelt sensibility scarcely found on the other tracks. Its presence is so pronounced, however, that Rashad's drums feel like something of an afterthought. If any more proof was needed of Rashad's flexibility, however, it, like the other tracks on Rollin', serves as a fine testament.

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