Review: Leon Switch – Deadlock / Persepolisia [CHST033]
After some hiatus due in part to the break-up of Kryptic Minds, Leon Switch finally returns, and returns in a big way with three heavy system shakers for Chestplate. While Si has transformed into Monic and shifted Osiris – one of the first new wave labels to push the post-brostep explosion of minimal dubstep, towards a more industrial, technoid vein – Leon sticks to his guns, crafting ‘Can’t Sleep’ era Kryptic Minds esque riddims that remind us what made Kryptic Minds so crucial and refreshing after countless Transformers-inspired wobble fests and constant pissing contests about who could make the biggest drop. That being said, what we are left with are what seem to be three KM songs and not Leon Switch tracks if that makes sense. They remind the ears too similarly to Kryptic Minds tracks. Granted, Mr. Switch was 1 half of KM, so it’s safe to assume that KM/Leon Switch are part and parcel, however say you were inna dance and heard any one of these beats, you’d probably think to yourself “Oh shit, a new KM dub!”. With my nit-picking aside, each track is guaranteed to shatter the dance floor and by no means let my opinion dissuade you from copping the wax.
‘Deadlock’ is marked by a booming voice on the definition of terrorism and on the tactics of population control via violence and coercion. Soon it fades to be marked by a LFO assault of swirling and twirling mid-range growls that menace and glisten like shark teeth. Cold hi-hats slice while an iron snare cracks ribs. Dubspace atmospherics haze across the soundfield as the growls subside. Anvil strength subs reinforce the lumbering hulk of ‘Deadlock’ but other than that, there isn’t much else to it. It’s sure to go off inna dance but it feels a bit by the numbers. Meanwhile, ‘Persepolisia’ glows open with 3am fog swirling above streetlamps. All sense of beauty is smashed with an almost ‘The Fifth’ like riff. The riff is more tasteful that ‘Deadlock’. By which I mean that it’s sparser and there is more room for sub-gymnastics for the speakers to do. But like ‘Deadlock’ before it there really isn’t much substance (pardon the pun) to ‘Persepolisia’. Both tracks simply move forward with dungeon wubs and not much else.
My personal favorite is ‘Lelyss’. Coming off like those more technoid ‘Can’t Sleep’ era tracks like ‘Fade to Nothing’ or ‘1000 Lost Cities’, ‘Lelyss’ floats with a refracted melody that gentle morphs from dull to sharp, preparing the air for a pneumatic pummeling of sub-bass frequencies. Not so heavily relying on a strictly half-time rhythmic structure, ‘Lelyss’ is a perfect mid-set pace setter so you can have to time to search your bag for those heavy hitters. Scissoring hi-hats reinforce the techno DNA of the riddim as hypnotic sonar blips ala ‘The Divide’ scan the outer reaches of dubspace for signals from Jah. Tasteful neuro-licks equip the sub sonics with some much needed bite and snarl. It’s a brilliant balance of light and dark that is probably the most fully realized track when compared to ‘Deadlock’ or ‘Persepolisia’.
All in all, Leon Switch’s first outing since KM’s demise is an underwhelming one, given the strength of Switch’s back discography. It’s disappointing to see a producer mine old tropes, especially ones that he himself created. Perhaps if this was released back in 2009 or 2010 it may have been stronger but too much time has passed since those first crucial KM dubstep tracks where released before Osiris went techno. Chestplate033 falls flat against the strand of time, relying too much on old tropes to get the dance moving and not moving forward sonically. Let’s hope Leon Switch can find new footing and surprise us with his next release.