- David Kennedy has been at the forefront of bass music's stylistic shifts, alternately working in minimalist weirdness and frazzled footwork vibes with his work on Hessle Audio and Swamp81. He's been quiet in the past year, however, releasing only a one-off vinyl single featuring "Untitled," and the weirdo-anthem "Faint" he did in collaboration with Boddika and Joy Orbison. Kennedy's first release on Hessle in almost two years shows him leading his labelmates further down the rabbit hole they've been going with recent releases by Elgato and Bandshell.
I'm not quite sure what one is supposed to call this music. Kennedy takes the non-linearity of "Untitled" and "Footloose" and further pulls out elements like blocks in a Jenga stack. They sound as if they're feeling out space rather than establishing a beat. They're the Pearson Sound equivalent of Wiley's beatless "devil mixes," and though there are drums, you'd be hard-pressed to find a recognizable kick pattern anywhere.
"Clutch" is Kennedy's sparsest work yet, approaching Untold's "Anaconda" in its arid severity. The captive drum sounds end in cartoonish thuds and sudden swells in size, briefly blotting out the light before retreating back to their skeletal frames. An oscillating synth doesn't really do much more than provide some queasy melody to latch onto, and by the time the track snaps to a sudden close it's easy to see who was truly behind the relative lack of structure in that aforementioned Boddika and Joy Orbison collab "Faint."
The other two tracks don't offer much more to chew on. "Underdog" has a harsh, halting jolt, where each bar feels completely separate from the next. Some end in ominous squalls of synth that make for the record's most captivatingly three-dimensional moment, a blip of bona fide texture in music made out of rattling sheet metal. Meanwhile, "Piston" suspends a hissy parade of hi-hats and snares in a thick stream of subaquatic atmospherics. Three fussy little tracks with little concession to "dance" don't make for the most appealing 12-inch ever. In the hands of the right DJ, however, these oddball tunes can turn anything they're mixed in with into genuinely startling dynamite.