xxxy (a.k.a. Rupert Taylor) has kept himself quite busy in 2011. "Kerpow" b/w "Down Wit U" is his third solo single of the year, and finds the up-and-coming UK producer exploring one of the year's most popular sonic themes—at least in the bass-music world—the glory of the 808.
Where his last single, "Open Your Eyes" b/w "You Gotta Do You," found Taylor dabbling in the vintage end of the bass-music continuum and exploring a bit of old-school electro, there's nothing as immediately retro on these latest offerings. "Kerpow" in particular is an upfront slice of contemporary bass music, almost to a fault. All the standard elements are in place: an off-kilter drum pattern, a thunderous bass drop, tweaked vocal snippets, and a whole lot of 808 drum sounds. Make no mistake, it's an edgy, effective creation, one that could be favorably compared to music being turned out by folks like Untold, Boddika, and Dark Sky. The only real drawback is that it perhaps sounds a little too much like those producers, as if xxxy is following a recipe—a delicious recipe, albeit one that's not truly his own.
More inventive is the record's other track, "Down Wit U," which is carried along by a funky and slightly distorted synth melody that hints at rave eras gone by without blatantly aping them. The percussion is once again heavy on the 808 sounds, as the primary drum pattern is akin to an updated take on Cybotron, albeit with a punchy, speaker-rattling low end. What begins as a mid-tempo number slowly swells before blossoming into a real stormer. It's not subtle, but it's very well done.
Even after an incredibly prolific year, it's evident that xxxy is still finding his voice as an artist. In the meantime, his style continues to shift as he tries on new sounds and experiments with his style. It's not always successful, but when the end results sound like "Kerpow" and "Down Wit U," it's difficult to register that vehement of a complaint.