- With the 18th release on the venerable Dirtybird imprint, the Martin Brothers—Christian and Justin—are taking the reins of the San Francisco label and leading it back to a style they helped pioneer in 2006. They call it hyphy house—an amalgamation of Bay Area hip-hop and dirty house borne out of a dissatisfaction with the number of “cookie cutter tracks” being released throughout the world.
It's easy to hear how these two sounds meld on 'Dum,' which starts things off with a beat constructed from samples so rooted in hip-hop that it leaves the listener assuming that an MC will come barreling in with a verse at any minute. Instead we get an arpeggiated synth line, which goes through multiple outfit changes, accumulating new timbres and shapes—all the while doing a proficient job at increasing the overall intensity. What makes the track special, though, is the multi-tracked beatboxing. Its lo-fi charm contrasts with the glossy production found elsewhere on Rocket Surgery and provides a humorous transition into the beat-heavy workout that wraps things up.
The vocal antics continue on 'Full Moon,' but here a battery of “oohs” are stretched and pitch-adjusted to form a basic melody. Again the title of the track reflects the vibe—a wolf howls (at a full moon, one assumes) and frogs chirp in the distance on top of a punchy beat. Call it haunted house: the gated vocal melodies, timpani flares, and boney xylophone would sound right at home in late October.
'Rocket Surgery' plays the straight man on this EP. It's more in line with the traditional Dirtybird sound. Anchored by an up-front tech house beat, it doesn’t waste much time before arriving at an emotive steel drum melody reminiscent of something you might've heard from Booka Shade circa Movements. In a scant three tracks—discounting, of course, the BBC Radiophonic Workshop-inspired comedic short 'The Capacitron'—the Martin Brothers show off an impressive range of songwriting and production skill, ultimately making this release one to recommend.
A2 The Capacitron
B1 Full Moon
B2 Rocket Surgery