London producer Slackk's new six-track EP for Local Action, Failed Gods, arrives on the back of steadily building hype around the creative resurgence of grime. Though he's previously released music via Numbers and Unknown to the Unknown, and last year dropped the Raw Missions EP for Local Action, Slackk (a.k.a. Paul Lynch) has arguably delivered his most inventive record to date here. The six tracks on Failed Gods play fairly fast and loose with their grime framework, and score points for their almost baroque arrangements and deliciously creepy atmosphere.
The first thing one hears on the EP, in the first bars of "Empty Bottles," is a winding, centrifugal synth line, which is underpinned by a sparse bass drum before further synths and cold, clattering percussion are added to the mix. The effect is slow and dizzying, and the track's clean lines and icy sheen are more than a little hypnotic. Lynch showcases his aggressive side on the storming "Shogun Assassin," which pairs a techno pulse with menacing synthesized strings and seriously dirty percussion, complete with plenty of gunshot noises. The EP's probable highlight is "Silk Road," which opens on what sounds uncannily like a sample of the theme from Twin Peaks before introducing a goofy synth melody and glittering keys. Keeping things at a slow tempo, the track hits on a vibe halfway between The Legend of Zelda and a luxury spa, and its deliberate playfulness is both a sharp contrast from the rest of the EP and a hint at a far more textural direction from the producer—something which is only confirmed by the bizarro-ambient of the following track, "Room Made Vague." Failed Gods' closer "Jackpines" further explores this kind of atmospheric territory, as its simple, creeping melodies and thick, loping bass create an excellent, horror-movie-soundtrack-like effect. It's telling that many of the record's best moments are often its more ambient ones, allowing Lynch to explore his deft, surreal grasp of melody. Ultimately, Failed Gods highlights what a versatile producer Lynch has become. It's difficult to think of any other artists exploring the outer reaches of grime so deftly, while maintaining the roughness that's a hallmark of the genre.