Review: Hodge & Facta – Spheres of Costa Rica / Visions [TEMPA096]

Finally dropping Proxima’s ‘Trapped’ after what seems like two years of hype, Tempa simmers back down dropping the tempo to 130 and skulks back towards the swamp with Facta and Livity Sound affiliate Hodge. Given the general hype of ‘Trapped’, this plate may not get to live in the spotlight, but these tunes belong in dank basements and ill-lit alleys. As I’d said in my review of the Wen & Parris Tempa plate, I’m interested in Tempa’s take on the 130 sound and it’s always exciting to see when the label shifts gears and moves away from the monotony of half-step. And with two of Bristol’s best, Hodge & Facta forge some deadly effective rollage.

On top you have the mystically tinged and tasteful banger of ‘Spheres of Costa Rica’. Haunting tones become sprites cavorting thru the jungle as a community sings and dances, summoning them to invoke a successful harvest. Still building while having a fluid and relaxed sense about it, a slightly menacing kick drum follows the community’s lead until a little sampled spin back breaks the sinuous flow. An instantly tension breaking steel pan melody gives us that ‘OH!’ moment. At first you’ll scratch your head, asking where the sub-bass is and as you finish that thought a big ol speaker cone crushing 4×4 comes stomping in. The steel pan melody rides atop and the community choir joins back into it as their harvest ritual reaches its climax. Congas join in the fun and the steel pan melody returns until the community tires their voices out, going to bed after a long night of dancing and singing. The sprites soon return to the forest too, having enjoyed the community’s offerings.

While the A side was a tasteful banger, ‘Visions’ is a darker, more serious ‘eyes down’ affair. You can taste the copper on your tongue and hear as the electricity courses through the air. 303 flecks burble from the gutters as warm city air whips against your face. Noxious sewer gases rise from manhole covers and the light from the lamp-post flickers above you. Spartan hi-hats and gaseous snares echo and dissipate, giving ‘Visions’ an interesting 3D spatial sound design, as the best Livity Sound plates do. While the higher frequencies merge and swirl together, the sub possesses a forward momentum that never really takes off, adding a particular rhythmic aggression that makes ‘Visions’ a great set opener that slow burns while never scorches. It’s like the DNA of Boddika and Livity Sound grafted on to each other to make this mongrel DJ tool.

After Tempa’s brilliant Wen and Parris release, TEMPA096 is a stellar slab of wax that will unfortunately play second fiddle to the recent Proxy plate. However, if I were you I’d definitely bag this over the Proxima release. It’s great seeing Tempa dip back down towards slower tempos while still having the restrained aggressive sonic ideology that they’ve always mined. Let’s just hope they keep it up.

TEMPA096 is out now and available from Juno Download.

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