- Before Tesfa Williams was a pop-baiting PMR artist, he was a grime producer—and a pretty badass one at that. Then known as Dread D, Williams was a member of Jon E Cash's Black Ops Collective, which pioneered its own garage-indebted strain of grime they called "sublow." After Black Ops essentially disintegrated in the mid-2000s, Williams moved towards the UK's burgeoning house scene with Deep Teknologi, a collective he founded in 2008 with DJ S.E.F. It wasn’t too long before he took that new sound and broke off on his own, eventually ending up on PMR. Now he's looking back to his early days with a return to Dread D. Appropriately, it sounds like a portal to 2002, and, if you only know Williams for his recent work, it'll likely be quite a shock.
For his new EP, Williams also returns to Local Action, the London label he inaugurated back in 2010. The label likes to look back on UK dance music history, which makes Siege a good fit: their last release was a pair of long-lost DJ Q bassline cuts, while this one uses the original kit of sounds from the old days. It results in an EP that feels rough and ready. Tracks comprise cardboard snares, rough string samples and wheezing synth sounds, all assembled in different patterns. The fleet-footed, garage-y grime of "Siege 1" hits hard and fast like Chun-Li kicks, while "Time Command"—an updated version of an old Black Ops jam—is nimble, with orchestral stabs that land like a super combo. The other two are slinkier but still thrust with shoulder-checking force, all with a swing that feels more generous than the rattling slam of other old-school grime producers.
Next to the wider world of futuristic, mind-bending grime, Siege could feel one-dimensional. It's a callback to the genre's earliest heyday: the power of grime originally came from its ultra-reduced brute force, which this record has in spades. But judging from Williams' recent sets for Boiler Room and Rinse FM (where he was joined by Jon E Cash for a tour-de-force two-hour program), the straightforward stuff has almost as much potential as it did in 2002. Music like this is too powerful to ever sound antiquated.
01. Siege 1
02. 10 Missed Calls
03. Time Command
04. Siege 2