My latest piece for The Ransom Note, reviewing the latest offering by up-and-coming dubstep producer J:Kenzo on the seminal label Tempa.
In the last 12 months, J:Kenzo has been catapulted into the upper echelons of the latter-day dubstep glitterati. His refreshingly retrospective productions first caught the ears of Tempa’s tastemaking mastermind Youngsta back in late 2010 and his debut release on the seminal label followed shortly after with the huge 12”, ‘The Roteks/Protected’. Returning to Tempa for his sophomore offering, J:Kenzo delivers another two slices of furious minimalism and hard-hitting dancefloor devastation with ‘Ruffhouse’ and ‘Therapy’.
Kicking off with sparse tribal drums and an eerie off-key arpeggiator, ‘Ruffhouse’ builds palpable tension before Rod Azlan’s detached vocal snippet cues the track’s descent into eyes-down-hoods-up territory. The unforgiving bass growls beneath the spacious percussion while the sinister sounds of the ghostly synths drift in and out of consciousness, making this a truly terrifying track when heard inside the ride.
On the flipside, the shuffling hi-hats and sonar echo bleeps make it immediately clear that ‘Therapy’ is the more energetic of the two tracks. The snarling sounds of the A side are replaced by a more subtle but no less belly-rattling sub bass, accompanied by the unmistakable synth stabs of classic dub-techno.
Whilst the dubstep I used to know and love seems to have been relegated back to the underground by the commercialised fusion sounds of today’s chart-toppers, drawing on dub-techno influences like J:Kenzo does here is one hybridization that sits absolutely right with me.
Sixty two releases deep and Tempa is still paving the way for Roots-oriented dubstep, and this offering – by one of its freshest new talents - epitomises its outlook of looking back to move forward. One for the original steppers.