2011 has been an interesting year for Kode9's Hyperdub imprint. After a torrid 2010 that included full-lengths from Ikonika, Terror Danjah, and Darkstar, not to mention high-profile singles from the likes of Cooly G, DVA, Kyle Hall, LV, and others, 2011 has seen the London-based imprint scaling back on the number of releases and largely focusing on a new crop of genre-blending artists. The latest is 20-year-old Manchester producer Walton, whose four-track, self-titled debut came out this week.
Despite Walton's young age, the EP is a well-refined effort, and one that dips into dance-music history that the producer himself was probably too young to truly experience. Grime is a major touchstone on the record, particularly on the angular synths of "Skrilla" and "Aggy," the latter of which rides a seasick bassline that favorably recalls tunes like Bok Bok's "Citizens Dub" and DVA's "Ganja" and "New World Order." "Mangled Riddim" is almost like a UK funky track that's been dissected and reassembled, as it's full of clattering snares and vaguely tropical drum sounds, but the song is so hyperactive that it only briefly settles into a regular rhythm before the percussion changes up once again. This sort of sonic ADD suits Walton well, but, interestingly enough, it's the EP's most focused and relaxed track, "808 Vybzin," that shines brightest. Defying the dreary vibe of Walton's hometown, the upbeat song offers an vintage, almost-Balearic feel with its bouncy, upbeat synths and relatively straightforward house drum patterns. There's obvious talent here, so Hyperdub is looking pretty smart for plucking Walton out of the minor leagues now.