"Do your thing, just make sure you're ahead of the game", warns 'Game', the opening salvo of Release, Pangaea's new double EP for Hessle Audio. It's a statement of intent for the entire record, reflecting the increasingly idiosyncratic nature of his music. Release's eight tracks are entities unto themselves, each a natural evolutionary continuation of the rough and rolling pirate radio techno he began to culture on last year's Hex and Inna Daze 12"s.
Since his early releases, Pangaea's music has expanded to reflect the growing diversity of dancefloors, reaching outward to integrate jungle, hardcore, techno and house into its rhythmic axis. The result is an incendiary hybrid form rooted in UK hardcore traditions, where ruffneck MC chatter, static-addled voices and sinewy melodies slip in and out of earshot like ghosts channelled from raves past.
These base materials are put to a variety of different uses across Release's length. Foremost among them is a swung and sub-heavy vision of UK techno, informed by a love of pirate radio and soundsystem music. So instead of remaining locked to a four-to-the-floor pulse, rhythms are splayed outwards into vortices - swirling assemblages of kicks, woodblocks and shrapnel that weave in and around one another. 'Majestic 12' explodes from the blocks at blistering speed, repeatedly switching in intensity across its length. Hi-hats keep time above roiling kickdrums on 'Trouble' and the aptly titled 'Time Bomb', which detonates with a billowing thud at the start of each bar.
Other tracks touch on ideas familiar from Pangaea's earlier music, but twist them almost beyond recognition. Both 'Game' and the 'Release' are raw steppers' tracks, but ruder and more abrasive than anything he's released to date, while 'Middleman' offsets a halfstep shuffle with warm brassy melodies. Release saves its largest curveball for last, though, with the seething ambient of 'High', whose murky surfaces are pockmarked by bitcrushed screams.
As co-head of Hessle Audio alongside Pearson Sound and Ben UFO, Pangaea's exploratory approach on Release also reflects the attitude that's characterised both his and his label's approach so far. As dubstep has fallen away, they have refused to simply follow many contemporaries into straightforward house and techno territory. Instead they take their influences as jumping-off points from which to explore, a method that's led them along new and distinctive pathways in ever-noisier surroundings. Release is no exception - the building blocks used in its construction may be recognisable, but they work in a way you might not have heard before.
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