- In the past year or so, the London-based Liminal Sounds blog has closely documented the emergence of a new generation of instrumental grime producers. The latest signing to its label, Melbourne's Air Max '97, reflects a shift in focus towards a more nebulous kind of contemporary club music, which mixes grime with an international spread of influences including hip-hop and R&B, post-Night Slugs hybrids of ballroom and Jersey house, the synthetic textures of the DIS Magazine set, and so on. In this anything-goes climate, Air Max's own coinage "oblique club trax" seems as good a descriptor for his music as any—his productions are clearly aimed at the dance floor, but they attempt to get feet moving in the most discombobulating way possible.
The producer's first official release—a collection of strange forms rendered in cold metallic tones—shows he hasn't yet found the equilibrium between weird and wonderful. The faintly footworky "Progress And Memory" is the most dynamic of the lot; "Sleeveless" and "Peak Flow," both slower, are intriguing but less compelling. All three feel like studies in rhythm—grooves from different styles are bolted together and peppered with odd cross-rhythms. Unfortunately we struggle to get beyond the exploratory stage, a fact not helped by some slightly flimsy mixdowns. Air Max's ideas are very promising, and with a little time hopefully he'll work out how best to frame them. In the meantime, young Night Slugs affiliate Neana shows him how it's done. His version of the title track is relentlessly groovy and primed for club use. There are shades of Club Constructions in its clipped chord stabs and syncopations, but Neana is rapidly making the sound his own.
A1 Progress & Memory
A2 Progress & Memory (Neana Remix)
B2 Peak Flow