It didn't take long at all for South London trio Dark Sky to rise to a place of notoriety in the bass community. It was less than a year ago that producers Tom Edwards, Matt Benyayer, and Carlo Anderson caught XLR8R's attention, and only months before then that the outfit's brand of brooding club music was first released via Black Acre and Pictures Music. This quick ascent could be attributed to any number of things: the fact that Edwards and Benyayer had worked together for years before as part of Boogaloo Crew, the fact that Dark Sky arrived seemingly knowing exactly what it wanted to sound like, the fact that the trio has released a non-stop slew of remixes and originals (not to mention DJ mixes) since its debut, the fact that the UK club scene in general is constantly on the lookout for 'the next big thing,' or the fact that Dark Sky is just damn good.
If pressed to choose a reason, we'd have to go with the last one on that list, and Dark Sky's latest release, the Radius EP, for Modeselektor's 50Weapons imprint, is yet more evidence why. The record hosts four solid cuts of dynamic, soundsystem-specific production work that deftly straddles the line between hard-edged and touching. Each track justifies its space on the wax with a variety of angular dance grooves, smooth synth pads, huge sub tones, and creative sound design. "Speeding Blue" is an ideal opener, a propulsive jam full of skittering beats and grimey hooks, and "The Lick" is an overwhelmingly powerful, punchy-as-hell cut that updates dubstep standards—speaker-frying bass hooks, eerie vocal samples, reverb-addled sound effects, rolling drum patterns, et al—with impeccable style.
"Neon" and "Be Myself," however, stand a notch or two above the other offerings. On them, Dark Sky blends contrasting moods and soundscapes to make some of the best bass-centric music we've heard all year. Deep spectral soul and a couple massive basslines make "Neon" an unstoppable tune, one that should undoubtedly wind up with a respectable position in everyone's lists come December. "Be Myself" is an atypical closer that jumps between a mysterious hip-hop swagger and booming 808 riddims that rival some of Ramadanman's best work on the drum machine. Dark Sky has certainly made waves during its short time on the scene, but as the Radius EP indicates, these guys are only just getting started.