The Higher - The Core

  • Shed looks to classic rave on this blistering EP.
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  • René Pawlowitz on XL Recordings makes a lot of sense. The label has recently explored its hardcore roots, while Pawlowitz's own dalliances with the detritus of UK rave has led to much of his best music. As The Higher, he foregrounds the hardcore indicators—detuned sweeps of pad, Sheffield bass knocks, euphoric vocals—while dividing the rhythms between jumbled stagger ("The Core"), junglist swerve ("Stick 3") and slippery halftime nodders (the two versions of "Submarine"). While we've heard these formulas from Pawlowitz before, The Core sounds particularly unshackled. He seems incapable of making music that doesn't ooze his distinct personality, but here the sense of joie de vivre is palpable, injecting the familiar with a vital energy. The title track is a metrical minefield that threatens to dislodge dancers, but its overwhelming positivity is offered in a disarmingly sincere fashion. "Stick 3" suggests Pawlowitz should work at high tempos more often—they give his sound a powerful shot in the arm. The psychotic 16th-note sample that enters at the end of the break is the most unhinged moment we've heard from Pawlowitz in recent memory. The two versions of "Submarine" offer more than we've come to expect, too. The "'99" version thrives on a screwfaced, robo-b-boy swagger that's held down by an insistent, menacing bass donk on the quarter note. But it's eventually cut through with happy chords and chipmunked vocals, touching on the classic hardcore battle of dark vs. light without feeling nostalgic—rather, it's hyper-modern. Another contrast pushes the "'95" take over the edge: after luxuriating in a giant cloud of rave bliss for the first half, we're thrown jagged ninja stars of repitched chords. In Pawlowitz's best work, there's always an interior instability waiting to reveal itself.
  • Tracklist
      A1 The Core A2 Stick 3 B1 Submarine '99 B2 Submarine '95