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  • Filed under: Review
  • 03/05/2012

Royal-T Number One EP

It's funny. Royal-T and his associates in the Butterz crew are ostensibly grime artists, but there's nothing particularly grimey about their music. Theirs is a new sort of grime, one that sheds the dark baggage of the genre's gritty past and instead delivers bright, technicolor sounds more suitable for the rave than the street. That's certainly true of the songs on the Number One EP, Royal-T's first outing for Rinse, which is dropping ahead of a forthcoming full-length album.

The two-track release kicks off with "Inside the Ride," a production which takes most of its cues from classic 2-step garage. The drums skip and swing, the snare pattern initially offset by plinky keys and chimes and boosted by some epic big-room chords. About a minute into the proceedings, a more modern touch takes hold when Royal-T brings in a big, buzzing synth line with enough mid-range-heft to dominate the composition. It's anything but subtle, and not particularly tasteful, but songs like "Inside the Ride" are created with one thing in mind: mashing up the dance. Viewed through that lens, the track accomplishes its goal with aplomb.

On the b-side, "Cool Down" attacks the dancefloor with a similar fury, but manages to do so with a touch more refinement. Once again, the production is highly reminiscent of garage's glory days, although "Cool Down" looks to '90s New York more than '00s London for inspiration. Nicely weaving together shuffling drums, prancing synth notes, and finely chopped female "oohs," "aahs," and other vocal bits, the song offers some quality nostalgia-laden bliss without sounding like a derivative throwaway. Even when Royal-T brings in a crunchy, rave-minded synth, it's done in a much less over-the-top fashion than before. Sure, it does dumb things down a touch, but "Cool Down" is undeniably fun, and far less likely to elicit protracted sighs than its a-side counterpart.

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