- When Kahn made his debut on Punch Drunk, it was with striking pop-garage—catchy (but not featherweight) and backed up with a slice of warm broken house on the flipside for good measure. But then Joseph McGann returned with "Way Mi Defend" on Black Box, two slabs of surprisingly faithful trad-dubstep that felt like they came from another planet. So which is it then?
McGann's newest for Punch Drunk is something like a compromise. To be sure, these are dubstep tracks, but they're not eyes-down smoke machines like "Azalea." Instead, they're loaded up with sometimes gaudy ornamental decor. The pounding "Tehran" wraps a vaguely Middle Eastern sample—what sounds like a Muslim call to prayer—around its jammed gears, producing an effect that's both alienating and mystifying as the chanting vocal unfurls into the air. More impressive is "Illy," showcasing a sudden synth sweet tooth from a producer whose previous work was steadfastly monochrome even at its poppiest. Veins of irridescent synth surge like they're going to burst, around a perfunctory dubstep lurch that wades through the soup of shiny goop. By the time it reaches the end and Kahn brings out the vocoders, the whole thing is a shimmering mass of earwormy melody, a whole spectrum of colours you can't even begin to articulate.