Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Terror Danjah featuring Riko Dan "Dark Crawler" (Hyperdub)

Yet again, it's singles night at in love with these times, in spite of these times towers and - even better - it's grime time. On vinyl, which feels a very 2003/04-ish luxury. Our house guest is the imperturbably assured Terror Danjah, a fixture on Kode 9's Hyperdub for a while now (witness the splendrous "Acid" 12" a couple of years ago):

"he maxes out some squiggly loops to blissfully meld acid house and rave-singed dubstep for a mere three skidding minutes or so, including a brief lizard-lounge interlude in which he slips in twenty seconds of oldskool 4/4 and a couple of bars of dislocated home computer bleeps for no reason at all, which of course is the best reason"

but we all know his earlier CV on grime mixtapes before that  "Hardrive Vol 1", for example) and that florid, genre-tangling instrumentals are by far from his only milieu. Meanwhile venerable MC Riko Dan, most recently glimpsed on "skengman love-in" "Horror Show", is also someone of no little verbal versatility - check out the must-have, spanking and wondrous double-CD "The Truth", his Eskiboy liaison "Big Time Veteran" or his contribution from HMP Brixton to Lady Sov's "Random" remix (was that really more than 7 years ago ?) - but whose recent outings have um, lacked lustre, and who isn't often enough paired with someone who can really help him show that talent off (although come to think of it, he did briefly team with Danjah on "Hardrive"'s bruising posse track "Boogie Man").

So, what do we get from this made-in-east London single, the title track taster for Terror Danjah's second album proper, scheduled to drop at the end of (not so far away) September ? Its name suggests that the song might be an eerie, slow-paced discombobulated night-time thing like some of the Kevin Martin (The Bug / King Midas Sound) collaborations, and for a few seconds as the needle hits the groove and Riko mumbles an introduction of sorts it's unclear, but then the beat kicks in with all the subtlety of a taekwondo slice to the face and - *wow* - you realise that not only is "Dark Crawler" a meeting of artists at the top of their game, but it's also a electric, high-tensile and very very fast garage-grime workout that lyrically shares the sentiment of past Riko cuts ("Informer Dead" springs to mind) while musically flaunting some punishingly low bass and carrying deliberate echoes of grime's "Pow!" club heyday (this could have sat quite happily on that full-of-promise first "Run The Road" volume, a great snapshot of grime's most golden age, before most of the artists on it - Riko and Sov included - paled into varying shades of ropiness).

"Dark Crawler" is unforgiving, sure (Terror Danjah never dropping off 140 beats per minute, Riko Dan never yielding to a pause for breath), but more importantly, it's *exciting*, and last time we lent an ear to *such* an enjoyably uptempo single of this ilk was probably when Killa P joined Luca and Rossi B for 2010's "Police Ar Come Run". Its punk rock credentials (grime, at least for a while, was the new punk, remember ?) are reinforced by it being that rarity, a sub-three minute A-side on the normally chilled and stretched-out Hyperdub. Intriguing that while that label is now responsible for two of the year's finest singles - this and Burial's sublime exercise in drizzled dubstep neo-classicism, "Kindred" - there couldn't be much more of a contrast between them. At a point in time when so many independent labels seem over-weaningly specialist, such diversity is tremendously welcome, and such strength-in-depth is truly impressive.

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