- With rave revivalism rolling on unabated, the resurgence of the Amen break is moving from quirky detail towards tedious ubiquity. For the moment, though, we're still in that creative patch where the past is being reworked rather than merely copied. Alex Smoke's latest for R&S, a label with more than a passing connection to early hardcore, offers three viewpoints on a 20-year-old sound.
The title track is like breakbeat hardcore done by Basic Channel, with dubbed-out chords unravelling over reverberant toms. The rigid percussion contrasts with echo trails that flit around every snare crack, and a vocal that moves from ominous to outright dread as it's warped beyond recognition. "Ruction (Dub)" is less disconcerting. Launching with gossamer drums from the Robag Wruhme toolbox, it rolls choked rave stabs over percussion that flickers like an echo with the original impulse removed. Both have an oppressive atmosphere that recalls Villalobos' version of "Blood On My Hands."
Tessela's remix of "Dust" approaches the past most directly. As the sublime "Hackney Parrot" showed, in Ed Russell's hands even the most played-out sounds take on a new resonance. Here Amen breaks, radio static, rave stabs and a bank vault-thick 808 throb are thrust together, with the elements only occasionally bursting into focus. This is jungle remembered not in Burial's yearning eulogies but with violence bubbling beneath the surface.
B1 Dust (Tessela Remix)
B2 Ruction (Dub)