Review: Alex Coulton – Hand To Hand Combat / Concealed Weapon [TEMPA102]

After a weird (in the nicest way possible) release from Appleblim, Alex Coulton returns again to the OG label Tempa for another dip through the swamp with the confrontational “Hand to Hand Combat” and “Concealed Weapon”. Tempa seems to be embracing a slower tempo as the past few releases have focused more on the interzones of the UK sound with youngsters like Wen, Parris, Facta and Coulton himself. Even the Inside Nomine LP’s best moments were 130 tracks like “Stickman” or “84600” that were cooly efficient in their dance floor ideology. Here for TEMPA102, Coulton is all brute force with mixture of grime-like rhythmics, UK Funky percs, and dungeon atmospherics for nice sequal to “Recall” and “Wiretap”.

Up first is the subtly funky “Hand to Hand Combat” which relies on a beguiling and serpentine bongo pattern that twists and weaves with grace, filling in the rhythmic gaps with a loose grime beat. Red-eyed roadman stabs muck up the proceedings, barcode scanners cry out and pitbull snarls rachet up the tension, as the rhythmic dynamics suddenly change into a bruk-out grime anthem just begging for an MC. The light touch of Funky and Garage continues to shine through as the congas remain ever watchful and the quick silver percs snap with gusto, giving a chance for the ladies to wiggle their hips in time in the last half of the track. The constant yin of grime masculine and the yang of UK funky’s feminine pressure and lilt create an interesting dialectic that’ll continue to get the dance floor nice and sweaty for months to come.

On the flip we got the dank, mold scented atmospherics of dubstep grafted onto a more techno-y frame with “Concealed Weapon”. Like it’s brother “Recall”, “Concealed Weapon” wallows in the 5hz, full body massage territory. Keeping that dread going, Jamaican duppies transubstantiate into dub sirens and refracted vocal clips that keep the jamaican twist of dubstep alive at that 130 tempo. Filtered growls and a glitchy percussive palate aligns “Concealed Weapon” more closely with a Berlin agenda. Flanged hi-hats saw and jacking 808s crack the third eye and evaporate like DMT smoke as its peels way to a stripped back floor killer perfect for demon rides on the Autobahn. Heavy shit indeed folks.

TEMPA102 is available on 12″ vinyl and digital format from Unearthed Sounds.

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