Every so often, there comes a time when a release arrives from a producer I’m fairly unfamiliar with and completely blows the roof off, surpassing any expectations. That’s certainly the case this week as multi genre prodigy ILL_K lands on the ever impressive Subaltern Records, a label who simply finds it impossible to sign a dull record. ‘Warp 6‘ delivers three turbulent tracks (four including digital exclusive) as ILL_K goes all in, pulling no punches and producing, for me, one of the most exciting records of the year. This isn’t purely a solo effort however, as Bristol badman Chad Dubz and fellow Bremen based producer Koobas link up with K for two mighty collaborations.
ILL_K‘s solo effort and title track ‘Warp 6‘ raises the curtain, unleashing a ferocious energy that doesn’t cease throughout the rest of the record’s playtime. Sounds of jungle are brought into the world of 140 with rapid break beats, sharp as a razor, cutting through the thick darker synth elements. Those dark aspects are migrated into the following track ‘Ninja Technique‘, a colossal collaboration with Chad Dubz. Where Chad Dubz usually flourishes in the realms of classic, minimal, low frequency driven dubstep, he broadens his horizons on this one. Encouraged by ILL_K‘s contagious energy, the pair put together a super infectious rhythm with an abundance of detail and dynamism in the drums and sampling, producing a similar vividness to the previous track. The addictive bounciness of the track is only to be interrupted by powerful monster-like drones that descend and fight against the sharp clinks and swishes of a samurai master’s sword.
For final track on the physical record, ILL_K is joined by Koobas, setting the scene of one of the many legendary warehouse raves, circa 1994. ‘Walking Home‘ is introduced by the unmistakable voice of MC GQ before the track plunges into a bowl of hot nostalgic soup. More dynamic break-beats kick in to wet the appetite and huge swooping synths give a rich flavour of 90’s jungle/hardcore. But all this, uniquely set at 140. Like much of the EP, it certainly feels fresh in this current landscape and acts as a great tool to break up a set or playlist made up of the usual patterns of modern 140.
For those copping the digital format, the digital exclusive ‘Mirage‘ gracefully slides in at the end of the EP. Beginning as one of ILL_K‘s more spacious, atmospheric productions, ‘Mirage‘ gradually progresses into another breakneck, full bodied composition, packing a punch with big kicks, light yet vigorous shakes and an increasingly throbbing low end that becomes more dominant towards the final stages.
Every track on this EP encompasses all that is great about the music coming out of the expanding world of 140 and surrounding bass genres in 2019. Each track runs through areas of darkness within expansive atmospheres, creativity through the blurring of genres and even some light hearted moments thanks to the inventive sampling on ‘Ninja Technique‘. Like many great records, there’s no stand out tune as there is no dud. Just four tracks worth of pure energy and, of course, killer breaks.
SUBALT022 is out this Friday (18th October) and available from the Subaltern Records store.