One day in the not-so-distant future, the internet just might buckle and implode under the weight of the 1,000,001st British bruv to make R&B-influenced UK garage on his computer. London-via-Manchester's xxxy (a.k.a. Rupert Taylor) has stood at the front of that swelling mass over the past few years by carefully crafting heavily sampled, spattering garage cuts for labels like All City and Orca, in addition to mixing a fantastic XLR8Rpodcast last summer. But on his latest EP, Everything, the producer has shifted gears, putting together a more mature set of house-influenced beats for Brighton imprint Well Rounded.
The title track carries traces of today's UK garage scene—soul vocal samples, impeccably clean production—but it more noticeably parks itself in that other garage, the one from across the pond. With detuned synth stabs this side of Mark Kinchen and shuffling percussion reminiscent of Masters at Work, Taylor moves his sound into buoyant, mid-'90s garage-house territory. "I Know This Can't Be Love" similarly cruises on a locked-in house groove, but it adds a gorgeous, trance-like synth sheen that periodically throbs in and out of the mix. The Brit shared a video for the track a few weeks back that features a handful of roses slowly wilting until they erupt in flames—it was a perfect illustration of the brutally serene, temporally bewildering qualities of the piece, which is certainly the EP's standout.
On 2011's "Ordinary Things," arguably xxxy's best-known track, the producer used layered sampled "woos" and pitched pop hooks over the glitchy, scattered ideas of the rest of the track's arrangement. On "Everywhere" and particularly on "Can't Be Love," the vocal samples are cradled carefully into both the song's mix and emotional framework, better reflecting a sense of focus and gravity from Taylor. This is the ultimate triumph of the EP, but it's also the failure of the vinyl-only bonus track, "I Can't Stop," which places its samples in a grating context over the usual 808 samples and stutter. It's a hiccup that detracts from the other two more-inspired productions, but xxxy has still demonstrated plenty of promise here, something he can easily build upon in the future as his evolutionary process continues.