- One way to run a label is to locate an interesting sound or idea and track it as it spreads across genres, continents and perhaps decades. Few recent labels have done this as well as Bokeh Versions, whose catalogue includes bizarre reggae (a reissue of Tradition's Captain Ganja And The Space Patrol), Japanese illbient (Aquadab & MC A) and the unique Seekersinternational, all connected by an oblique vision of dub. The connection is more tenuous on the South London label's latest. Mars89, a member of Tokyo's self-described "post tribal DJ unit," Chopstick Killahz, makes spartan rhythm tracks steered by international club currents rather than deeper dub flows, and his Lucid Dreams EP echoes ballroom house and the droning menace of gqom. But dancehall is also in the mix—on "Biological Tides," Patois is looped and choked with reverb over a The Bug-style death march beat—and dub's subtractive logic might inform the suffocating empty spaces.
These spaces are what makes Mars89 stand out. His tracks run in slow motion, their sparse, endlessly looping grooves evoking grinding dread. There's something a bit doom metal about this, made explicit in the snarling low drones of "Bandersnatch." This can make for heavy listening—the EP runs to 36 minutes, and some of the less commanding tracks, like "Shaman's House," labour the point. But "Poltergeist," with its tolling bells and bullet-time snares, and "Sensory Deprivation," in which club music clichés suffocate at 110 BPM, are stark and gripping.
A3 Sensory Deprivation
A4 Shaman's House
B2 Biological Tides