- The London label and NTS show captures the fast tempos and global nature of club music's avant-garde.
- Since 2013, the London label and NTS radio show Circadian Rhythms has offered a home for darker strains of UK club music. On the airwaves, the cofounders, Last Japan and Blackwax, are just as likely to showcase Mssingno's emotive electronics as grime MC Trim's cryptic bars. But recently the duo have cocked their ears to the tougher rave and jungle sounds enjoying a resurgent moment through younger artists like Etch and Dead Man's Chest. The label's most recent release delivered ghostly jungle courtesy of Thugwidow. Now the label's first compilation, Partisan, pays homage to the breakbeat-indebted past while also speculating on future, splintered transformations.
Circadian Rhythms aren't the only ones exploring high-tempo, neck-snapping rhythms. Look to artists such as Slikback in Kenya or the SVBKVLT crew in China and you'll find the percolation of similarly accelerated beats, albeit ones that assume fascinating new forms. Indonesia's Gabber Modus Operandi deliver exactly the kind of furious rhythms you'd expect from their name. And Rui Ho's fizzing, high-speed tracks for the likes of Genome 6.66Mbp and Objects Limited have highlighted the pop potential of this globally disparate scene. Partisan reflects these shifting currents, not least with the inclusion of SVBKVLT's Hyph11E, who forgoes her usually abrasive percussion for nearly beatless noise. The track feels like a far-in-the-future recollection of jungle, a memory distorted by technological upheaval.
Hyph11E's track is the most abstract on a compilation that oscillates between revivalism and experimentation. At one end of the spectrum, Tim Reaper and Impey turn in masterful classicist evocations of rave and jungle, respectively. Reaper's "Light's Off, Heads Down," in particular, is a joy, pairing cascading waterfall-like synths with scattershot snares and tumbling kicks. At the other end is Sense Fracture's face-pounding "Unaccountable, Unclean," which offers a thoroughly modern, eviscerating inflection of happy hardcore. Thugwidow's opener arguably splits the difference between these two perspectives. It's atmospheric at first with ominous crackles and gurgling bass until sludgy, grinding drums cut through the industrial mood.
If you're comparing Partisan to Circadian Rhythms' previous radio and label output then it's noticeably instrumental. Sully provides the compilation's sole vocal melody, and it's a welcome human touch amid a steely group of tracks (their resolute chilliness can be wearying in a single sitting). Still, that Circadian Rhythms can look to such traditions without simply rehashing the past is Partisan's strength. The compilation's breadth, heard in tracks like Ytem's spin on Showtek's 2006 hardstyle hit "The Colour Of The Harder Style" and Shell's wistful yet propulsive "Untitled," suggests a scene in rude health, one capable of reframing hardcore amid times changing as rapidly as its blistering BPMs.
01. Thugwidow - Dominion
02. Tim Reaper - Lights Off, Heads Down
03. Hamilton Scalpel - Shallow Gunk
04. Ausschuss - Def Recco
05. Clouds - Augullie2
06. Sully - Vérité
07. Grade 10 - Total Kaos
08. Hyph11E - Flashes
09. Flora Yin-Wong - Tengu
10. HXE - SKU
11. Ytem - Surin
12. Impey - DS Flips
13. Acre - Sins
14. Filter Dread - Cave Bass
15. Shell - Untitled
16. Sense Fracture - Unaccountable, Unclean