West London's early '00s broken-beat style is often left out of UK dance music histories. This might be because of its sound—its jazziness doesn't fit neatly into "hardcore continuum" narratives—or its lack of crossover success. But since its crucible, the Co-Op night, ended in 2007, the style has had a subtle but profound influence on London dance music. Lately, originals like Dego and Kaidi Tatham have begun working with admiring younger labels (Eglo and FaltyDL's Blueberry Records), and new collectives like 22a have proudly displayed broken beat's influence. At the end of 2015, Boiler Room held a night celebrating the style. Following Co-Op tradition, a studio session was booked for the day after, during which the foundations of this EP were laid.
It should be no surprise that its five tracks lack the grit and form-busting energy of the genre's heyday. But its slick, muscular tracks are satisfying distillations of broken beat's key sounds. The new guard is represented by 22a's Henry Wu, who appears twice. Co-Op figurehead IG Culture, with regular collaborator Alex Phountzi, sets Wu's muffled vocal against diva cries on their remix of "Substance." The same three names appear on "2nd Intention," where delicately programmed breakbeats rub gently against a halftime beat. Both tracks soothe with soulful keys. Under his Son Of Scientist alias, IG Culture roughs things up slightly on "Spartan Riddim," whose sampled chatter foregrounds broken beat's Jamaican influence.
NameBrandSound—IG Culture and Phountzi's collaborative alias—joins Sonar's Ghost, AKA the veteran producer Domu, on "Can't Hold It". A great piece of broken beat alchemy that combines jazzy agility (fidgety breakbeats, chords and sliced voices) with dubwise heft (the bassline), it's the EP's best track. IG Culture teams up with another key player, Seiji, for the slower "Gangz." The drop in tempo causes those trademark syncopations to lose some of their spark—the squiggly space-funk synth work doesn't quite make up for it.
Tracklist01. Henry Wu - Substance (IG Culture & Alex Phountzi Remix)
02. Son Of Scientist - Spartan Riddim
03. NameBrandSound & Sonar's Ghost - Can't Hold It
04. Alex Phountzi - 2nd Intention feat. IG Culture & Henry Wu
05. IG Culture & Seiji - Gangz