Springing largely from the London-based record label Boxed, instrumental grime has taken up a niche position within the U.K. music scene. The genre delivers grime tunes driven not by vocals from MCs, but instead by internal sonic narratives. In recent years, the scene has quietly mutated into various strains, all subtly stranger and more outré than the original form. We’ve collected some of these glazed-over tracks with indisputable drive and energy; it’s perfect music for smoking up to.
Starting us off this week is Iglew and Gundam’s ‘Illuminated,’ taken from Boxed’s most recent compilation album. It moves at the traditional grime tempo of 140 beats per minute, but fleshes a sonic world out through sparse percussion and new-age synthesizers that almost recall Brian Eno’s seminal Ambient 4: On Land. On ‘Blue Sheet,’ producer Slackk brings video game music to the fore, marrying humming 8-bit notes to crisp drum machines. Close your eyes and you could be in the most genteel beat-em-up game of all time.
Visionist has pushed himself far outside the bounds of conventional classification by now, but the remnants of grime can be heard on ‘Tired Tears, Awake Fears’ from his 2015 album Safe. Ripped apart and dissected, the ghost of what could have once been an R&B sample hauntingly floats between the dying gasps of some alien supercomputer.
Dark0 has moved away from the scene and now works more loosely in the realm of trance-indebted atmospherics. Yet on ‘StripGlo,’ he reintroduces the familiar throbbing kick drum of grime’s past, breathing new life into it by adorning its skeleton with convulsing sheets of noise and complex percussion programming. Combine that endorphin overload with some quality green, and you’ll be glowing too.
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