Well, this was certainly unexpected. Mere months after dropping what was essentially a based hip-hop single on Sinden's Grizzly imprint, the unfortunately named San Francisco/Los Angeles duo known as 5kinandbone5 has re-appeared on upstart UK label Unknown to the Unknown with two tracks that owe a greater debt to 2-step garage and vintage dubstep than anything resembling rap music. Granted, the implementation of these kinds of shuffling drum patterns isn't the most innovative approach in 2012, especially when paired with tweaked R&B vocal snippets (yes, some of those are here too), but "Make U Understand" b/w "Reset" makes up for its lack of originality with solid production and the producers' stylistic restraint.
"Make U Understand" kicks things off with a sparse garage rhythm and a few lines lifted from "More to Love," a relatively anonymous 1996 cut from Case. In a way, the vocal's use recalls the work of Brenmar, as 5kinandbone5 builds a catchy hook and even pairs it with a chorus to "oohs" to fill out the melody. However, that's where the comparison stops, as 5kinandbone5 keeps the production relatively mellow, eschewing ravey synths for a stabbing bassline and some subtly wobbling notes. While any sort of wobble is usually a giant red flag, on "Make U Understand," it's used to accentuate rather than dominate, and works quite well.
On the flip side, "Reset" is the more upbeat offering, but the song employs a similar sound palette and many of the same production tricks as "Make U Understand." This time around, it's Usher's vocal chords that are being put to use; the track's main hook is taken from his song "Stranger," and again finds 5kinandbone5 flashing a real pop sensibility similar to that of the duo's Grizzly compatriot Brenmar. Yet even though "Reset" is more suited for the club than its a-side counterpart, the production is remarkably bare, combining a steppy snare pattern with a thick, warbling low-end. There's an effective use of sonic white space, and this ability to hold things back is key component of what makes 5kinandbone5 an interesting production outfit. Granted, neither "Make U Understand" or "Reset" is reinventing the wheel, but they're not throwaway blog dreck either. In the increasingly cliché-flooded world of bass music, that counts as a win.