In an exciting move for the irrepressibly active Bristol music scene, two of its chief proponents are bringing their distinct styles into one whole. Matt Walker (a.k.a. Julio Bashmore) has been one of the leading lights of the UK club scene's mass embrace of house music, rising to a level that verges on the mainstream while maintaining the integrity and quality of his music. Kowton (a.k.a. Joe Cowton), on the other hand, has been working steadily within more underground—though still conspicuous—routes, releasing his own pioneering techno-grime crossovers on a variety of labels and collaborating with Peverelist on Hessle Audio and Livity Sound. Pulling Walker's and Cowton's ideas together seems like a feat in itself, but on "Mirror Song," the pair's first collaborative tune, each producer deposits his clearly identifiable cargo in simple and effective ways.
The song finds Julio Bashmore's stepping bass and brightly lit, big-room embellishments being given a craftier slant by Kowton's flickering, repetitive percussion. All of these elements sound as though they were programmed with a specific roughness, which is perhaps why the end product comes off sounding like a homemade bootleg—something that works in their favor. Still, there's more on the Mirror Song EP than it's title track. For the tune's so-called "Techno Mix," Kowton recalibrates the original parts with subtlety and skill. This minimal version pushes factory-floor drum clatter and hot subs, although the end product does feel a bit stifled, even with the track's newfound spaciousness.
Cowton takes total control of the studio for "And What," his most out-and-out grime track to date—the "East St Riddim" banger he produced with The Kelly Twins notwithstanding. The tune's patter of wooden percussion and rapid-fire electro claps levitates over the top of a speaker-blowing low frequency, all of it wrestling against the constant electromagnetic pull. It's devious, inspired, and powerful, rounding off an EP that's as much of a fortuitous collaboration as it is a step forward for the two producers involved.