- Kahn and Neek had their breakthrough in 2012, when instrumental grime was making its comeback. "Percy" deserved its place at the table, but its reboot of classic eight-bar grime was on the trad side compared to some of the wilder ideas floating around. This is how the Bristol duo likes it. Their Bandulu label is vinyl-only, in homage to the scene's early days, and their Gorgon Sound project does to rootsy dub what "Percy" did to grime. As Kahn & Neek, they're in a pocket of producers—among them Deep Medi's Commodo and Gantz—who innovate while invoking the UK bass styles of a decade ago. Their best tracks sound fresh, but the flavours are familiar.
This tension between tradition and innovation can be heard in the duo's Fabriclive mix. Having sourced 14 unreleased exclusives from Bandulu, the Young Echo crew and friends, Kahn & Neek couldn't be accused of being stuck in the past. But the mix's menacing moods, measured halftime beats and sturdy basslines feel in thrall to a classic formula. Sometimes the duo make these materials sound fresh, and sometimes they don't.
The opening section is the most interesting. The sombre dub echoes of O$VMV$M give way to "BwoyTestVIP," a collision of Seekersinternational's samples and Jabu's bedroom pop. ManonMars's "Nuke The Threat" is odd, ersatz US rap, and we hear Gantz at his strangest on two unreleased productions. These tracks pull outside influences into Kahn & Neek's sombre universe, making its boundaries seem permeable.
Things change as the mix plateaus around 140 BPM. There are still standouts: Rider Shafique's spot on the Ishan Sound-produced "Highest VIP," say, or "Send Out," a Kahn & Pinch collab whose bassline toggles between "foghorn" and "gatling gun." The Bug's "Fuckaz," which features Spaceape, is a particular highlight and one of the mix's few older tracks. But these moments become rarer, and a string of similar subwoofer-rattling bass pulses, whip-crack snares and judiciously placed sirens cause fatigue to set in.
The surprises don't return until the mix's closing minutes. It detours into softer moods, thanks to Jabu's "Hungry Ghosts" and VMOS & Boofy's "Dial Tone," then lurches back into gear with a remix of Sir Spyro's raucous "Topper Top." That track evaporates into the spectral dub clouds of Kode9 & The Spaceape's "Ghost Town." It's one of the mix's oldest tracks, and one of the most futuristic-sounding.
01. O$VMV$M - Thin Joe
02. Jabu & SKRS - BwoyTestVIP
03. ManonMars - Nuke The Threat
04. Gantz - Shaitan
05. Kahn - Polar feat. Rider Shafique (Gantz Remix)
06. Mungo's Hi Fi - Rules Of The Dance feat. Charlie P(JD Remix)
07. Lamont & Boofy - Walkin' Round Ere
08. Gantz - Temple Meads
09. Ishan Sound & Rider Shafique - Highest VIP
10. Boofy - LVX93
11. Pinch & Kahn - Send Out
12. Jamakabi - Hot It Up (Kahn & Neek Remix)
13. Jook - Juice
14. TMSV - Shallow Breath
15. O.B.F - Ram Dance
16. The Bug - Fuckaz feat. Spaceape
17. Youngstar - Bongo (Kahn & Neek Remix)
18. Kahn & Neek - Acting The Goat
19. Gemmy - The Set Up
20. Hi5Ghost - Scorpion's Mask
21. Young H - We A Talk feat. Dread MC & Rider Shafique (Ishan Sound Remix)
22. Lemzly Dale - No Long Talk (Kahn & Neek Remix)
23. Commodo - S Is For Snakes
24. Kahn & Neek - Damascus
25. Jabu - Hungry Ghosts feat. Chester Giles
26. VMOS & Boofy - Dial Tone
27. Sir Spyro - Topper Top feat. Teddy Bruckshot, Lady Chann & Killa P (Kahn & Neek Remix)
28. Kode9 & The Spaceape - Ghost Town