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Hessle Audio : 116 & Rising

A 12 track u.k./euro techno album (1h 7m 3s) — released May 23rd 2011 on Hessle Audio

One of the reasons ascribed to dubstep's continuing success has been its ability to absorb influences from

across the entire electronic spectrum, and no label has been more key to its continuing evolution than

Hessle Audio. Started in 2007 by David Kennedy, Ben Thomson and Kevin McAuley, the label quickly became

a benchmark for quality, through releases from (the then) new artists like TRG, Untold and James Blake, as

well as a vehicle for their own productions. With 18 releases over the past three years, the imprint is

renowned for its impeccable quality control. Kennedy is their most prolific producer, under his

Ramadanman and Pearson Sound monikers, now amalgamated into his own name. Ben UFO has always

stayed true to his initial love, that of DJing almost as curation: he demonstrates this biweekly on his Rinse

FM radio show and at Hessle's Fabric residency, having been one of the first to start playing with the tempo

to allow for older house and garage influences in his sets. Pangaea defined his sonic palette on a self-titled

EP, a landmark of 2010, with minimal rolling basslines, vocal-driven melodies and more than a nod to the

music's old school roots.

The compilation exists as a way to unite the entire Hessle roster, as well as allowing them an avenue to put

out work by friends and producers they have been unable to work with so far. The first disc is all new work

plus a second has a selection of choice cuts from the back catalogue. There's also work from producers who

they feel have shaped the label's aesthetic, like D1's 'Sub Zero', whose sub bass stabs were a staple of the

early DMZ sets that they initially united over back in 2005. One of their close affiliates, Addison Groove is

also featured, his anthem 'Footcrab' having done so much to bring the tough tempo of juke to the world's

dancefloors. The subtle pitch-shifting of a looping hip hop vocal and the polyrhythmic patter of rim shots

and cymbals on 'Fuk Tha 101' are unmistakably his. Another producer previously unreleased on Hessle is

synth-mad Randomer whose 'Brunk' features an industrial strength kick and finishes up with ghostly pads

invoking musique concrete. The disc is rounded off by Bristol's Peverelist, whose own dub-soaked

productions, as well as those released on his label Punch Drunk, owe so much to that city's rich musical

traditions. On 'Sun Dance' synth chords bring to mind the dystopian drum n bass of DJ Krust, the track

driven forwarded by paper-like hi-hats and cymbals. There's a single claustrophobic Hammond note held

through to the close alongside the echoing sounds of water dripping in a cave.

Disc one kicks off with the spritely chimes and shuffling beat of Elgato's 'Music', whose muted vocal chant

was used to such beautiful effect in Kennedy's recent FABRICLIVE mix. Untold bring's detuned chords,

jangling glass and a cheeky synth line, breaking down into mutant funky house. Blawan's 'Potchla Vee' reveals

some unexpected instrumentation: the skittering of what sounds like the cogs of a clock gives little

breathing room to the assault of tribal drums and processed grunts. The Pearson Sound track 'Stifle' seems

to slow things down, with an adenoidal vocal snippet acting as counterfoil to the percussive snap of the

drums, delicate EQing and synth washes providing characteristic texture. Once again on 'Twice', Joe

demonstrates the effectiveness of unexpected drum sampling, with a disconnected beat cooked up out of

error bleeps and the tap of a typewriter. Pangaea's own contribution is a rave homage; oscillating between

synth stabs and a filtered ragga MC sample, the track is layered with a bouncy acid bassline, creating a

phantom jump up effect. Romania's TRG was Hessle's first release and here builds on his mutant garage

template, with a reverb-soaked drum kit jostling against some analogue pads and a seagull-sounding

distorted warble. James Blake, re-edits an earlier Hessle release, bringing the processed vocals to the fore

much in the style of his recent album. It's soul music that's undecidedly electronic, the vocals screwed and

chopped into the background, a virtuoso display of arrangement ordering a lacklustre pair of cowbells, a

chorus of shuffles, croaks and pads into an infectious slow burner.

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