- Dusk and Blackdown's Keysound Recordings closed out 2012 with Beneath's storming Illusions, and they ring in 2013 with the debut EP from Wen. These two producers, alongside Visionist, form the young triumvirate at the forefront of a sound Blackdown has provisionally titled "dark 130." It's a style whose sounds—windswept pads, gloomy melodies, brooding sub weight—can be traced back to the early FWD and DMZ days. Nudged down a few BPM and spliced with the rhythmic DNA of grime and UK funky, this tried and true palette proves to be fertile ground for new mutations.
As it stands, Wen's profile is largely non-existent; on the strength of these four tracks, concise and original as they are, that ought to change. "Commotion" and "Nightcrawler"'s halftime beats roll forth with the poised asymmetry of the finest grime, leaden but somehow agile. The latter's slower tempo affects the rhythmic flow, but what it loses in groove it makes up for in sheer weight of atmosphere. "Spark It" displays a subtle UK house skip, but its growling bass throbs are a distant cousin of Youngstar's seminal grime track "Pulse X." Wen saves his best 'til last in "Road," a devilishly abstracted halftime beat whose meaty grime-esque orchestral samples are slowed and stretched until they take on an oddly mournful quality. On the surface this music may seem too slow and spacious to work in the dance. But, just as with early dubstep, Wen's carefully constructed rhythms contain a subtle double-time undertow, impelling your body to fill in the gaps.
B1 Spark It