Pev & Kowton "End Point" b/w "Vapours"
The first thing we hear on "End Point," the a-side of Pev & Kowton's latest collaboration, are tumbling, weightily syncopated kicks. In another context, the introduction would be anodyne, but here, they set up a healthy Pavlovian expectation. The two producers, along with Asusu, form the no-frills artistic collective and label Livity Sound, which has been around since 2010 but is just now hitting its stride in 2013. Livity Sound's various 12"s offer an instantly recognizable configuration of a few carefully selected elements: sub-aquatic bass, raw-knuckled drum machines, metallic pings, and the odd, tattered melody. True to form, "End Point" introduces itself with bland humility while indicating that something potentially huge is about to go down. The Bristol trio harkens back to a mode of production and consumption that only a few privileged listeners have experienced firsthand: the mythological, unassuming label with a simple mandate that keeps the epiphanies coming.
Pev & Kowton is an especially inspired pairing, and "End Point" is easily the equal of the earlier collaborative highlight "Raw Code," which dropped earlier this year on Hessle Audio. Both tracks here work due to the slightly different skill sets of these two drum-obsessed producers. Kowton's take on Bristol bass pressure is dry and punchy, offering dub that's been dried of anything wetter than slapback echo. It's easy to assume that he's responsible for the snare sound here, which knocks like a baseball bat against a casket. Pev, on the other hand, playfully rolls his bassy girth around and raises sad-eyed melodies above the scrap. In the place of "Raw Code"'s piping, ghostly flutes, "End Point" accumulates heavily swung loops before unfolding moth-eaten rave pads, still musty from their time in the duo's harcore hope chest. It's a big, phosphorescent jellyfish of a song, gorging on details, then launching itself upward in search of more. The less anthemic "Vapours" heads toward the ocean floor with its astringent techno loops, warm jets of bass, and the nervy patter of hand drums. Once again, Livity Sound has taken in the historical breadth of the UK's electronic-music culture and sliced it into fine, unique tranches.
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