Terror Danjah & Champion Sons of Anarchy EP
Times are good for those who like a little overlap in their 2-step diaspora. The Sons of Anarchy EP finds a marquee grime producer soundclashing with a UK funky torchbearer on one of the UK's premier labels, a development that's far more encouraging than surprising. Since joining Hyperdub's ranks, Terror Danjah has grown increasingly colorful with his beats, envisioning grime as a continuously eclectic, adventurous, and straight-up playful genre. Here he's linked up here with Champion, a funky stalwart and someone who actually works with Terror Danjah's Hardrive label. Beyond that, Champion is an artist who has stayed true to a once-trendy sound while reinforcing and boosting its strengths with his genre-splicing efforts.
The producers' individual styles shine through on their respective solo tracks for the EP. Terror Danjah's intensely bright "Sam Cro" leans on an almost chirpy bassline that occasionally seeps over into acid distortion; the breakdowns are cleverly fluid, even as the brittle hi-hats and squelching claps crackle and scatter underneath. It sounds a little raw when juxtaposed with Champion's "Bowser's Castle," a deceptively spacious anthem that hides any aggression under a blanket of NES nostalgia. Still, the song's 8-bit throwback melodies and tuba-wobble bass bring out the sharper, more intricate qualities of Champion's drum programming; this is a track that demands different agendas of the feet and waist.
It's the collaborative productions that prove to be the main attraction, though, and for good reason: as collaborators, labelmates, and cohorts, vet Terror Danjah and on-the-rise Champion operate toward similar ends. Their first two team-ups take winding basslines and beats down two entirely different paths, demonstrating that where one artist ends and the other begins is less relevant than what they do together. "Glide" ricochets from streamlined funky rhythms to dense, hammering grime in a way that might clash a bit more loudly if it wasn't so expertly tied together by a deep, chameleonic bassline that warps to fit the pattern or occasionally jab back at it. "Stone Island" is relentless in the way it builds up, breaks down, pushes forward, and rolls back its intricate interplay of liquid snares, hi-hats, and upfront kicks. But it's "Explode" where the pair's sensibilities really mesh into something seamless. The elements of Terror Danjah's chromed-out grime excursions and Champion's versatile pop/underground funky-house hybridization fuse into a big, shameless dancehall banger that drips with sweat, roils with the energy of a festival crowd, and shows off nearly every rhythmic and counter-rhythmic trick the two producers have in their arsenals. Even their respective drops—Terror Danjah's badman chuckle and the eponymous "Champion sound!"—sound like they've always belonged together.
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