Review: Epoch – Badminded LP [BLACKLIST003]

Innamind’s goth sister, Blacklist, returns with an LP’s worth of material from man like Epoch entitled “Badminded”. Not suprising, after Epoch debuted on the other other label from the Innamind camp, IMX. While both “Attraction Dub” and it’s second installment with “Glock Jump” showcased Epoch’s penchant for loose rhythmics (a la Gantz and camp), as well as a dark psychedelia that hung over everything. For “Badminded”, the same ideology runs through it without getting bogged down in the the half step crawl sprawling across all kinda tempos and all kinda styles. It’s a perfect fit for Blacklist as their previous forays have drifted towards the more “leftfield” productions that have come from the stable of Innamind’s roster and it’s perhaps the biggest statement to come out of Innamind and its tendrils thus far.

“As Far As I Can” vacillates between trip-hop moonwalk and Kavinsky LA synths that recall Blade Runner or literally any other Vangelis release. It’s gloopy percussion thuds with opioid dependency and outer dimensional textures pour into the crevices, but it’s framed between the hopeful optimistic synth work that brightens the murky rhythm. Suddenly it stops to be engulfed with enmeshed field recordings until the synths return for the coda and some diva voice sings in a gas station bathroom about love. Title track “Badminded” rumbles with treated piano that is oddly reminiscent of Sonic Youth’s “Providence” offa Daydream Nation, that is until Megatron starts to spit bars between the thunder cracks and scan gun blips. It’s probably some hip hop cat from the 90’s that Epoch sampled, but who knows honestly. Much like the proceeding track, it is swallowed by the void noise of field recordings and a sampled woodwind provides some melody to hum, until the Kiwi starts detuning it. Clocking in at just under 3 minutes, its the shortest track outta the bunch and unsurprisingly sounds half finished and more of a sketch than a fully realized song.

The crown jewel of the LP, “Stonecutter” by contrast rolls for a full 6 minutes. While the previous tracks swirled around field recordings of chemtrails, atmospheric phenomena, and static, “Stonecutter” forgoes the atmospherics for some good old fashioned drum and bass rollage. Retaining the viscous percussion that runs concurrent with most of the album, the tempo doesn’t wallow in halfstep’s plodding navel-gazing, but steams ahead with wailing patois ringing out across the expanse of Wareika Hills. It’s all lovingly layered atop a diving bomb sub that may hit at infrasound levels on big systems. “Isolated” comes off like a long lost deep cut from Mezzanine era Massive Attack with its dank and clastrophobic noise, yet has this boom bap sound as guitar squeals, record scratches, and middle eastern stringed instrumentals cavort around some 808 hi-hat spray, only to be dragged back into the muddy water of field recordings. However, it gets outshines from the IDM inflected-break intro of “Bolakore” until it morphs back into another middle of the night beat that Earl Sweatshirt would find appropriately dark for his next album. A lovingly sampled keyboard is looped as another vocal loop interjects. Some dial tone is decontextualized into an off-putting melody.

Up next is another drum and bass inflected number called “Leaving”. Pitter patter percussion circa Hessle Audio 2007-8 duel it out while decompressed airplane air is pumped in between the rhythmic kinks. A woodblock taps out a melodic-rhythmic counter point that is suitable groovy and funky in a off-kilter way that never resolves as Epoch brings briny, submerged strings to the forefront that dissolve and meander for awhile until the whole thing constructs itself again. While the original is off of the break-meister Etch’s EP “Old School Methods” that came out on Keysound a while back, Epoch rips the soulful edges outta “Sphynx” and replaces them with sounds from dive bombing WW2 fighter jets and odd 80’s boogie bass. The original had some garage swing to it, but here it’s replaced with dubstep’s stomp, trash-can snares, odd stops in its forward momentum, and a freaky abandon. Though, if you ask me, it’s probably the weakest outta the LP. Lastly, “Untitled” features Egyptian Avenue cohort / grime-wunderkind Wen in the studio with Epoch on a brok-out, mosh pit skank. Old Rinse.FM samples are decoded from old pirate transmissions with all the static and tape hiss still intact. Clinical snares and pulse x detonations mix their DNA, until a grime MC gets to hype, verbally shelling Demon before it blasts off again with commands to “run the riddim”. Proper tune to skank till the lights come on and the pills wear off.

All and all, “Badminded” is a bewildering take on where dubstep is at the moment; loose, psychedelic, and broken apart. Turning it’s sludgy stomp inward towards more abstract territory that is constantly breaking down into gloopy percussion, the howl of the upper atmospheres of space and chaotic sampling that is more odd ball than Rastafari portents. It’s beguiling stuff as all of it will fall apart at a moments notice then just as quickly reconfigure into something more Lovecraftian than before. While the majority stays within the 140 tempo range, the drum and bass influence is undeniable, and all the more thrilling as it doesn’t take its cues from labels like Cyclon, Samurai, Metalheadz, Cosmic Bridge and the like. It’s not beholden to the newer footwork aesthetic data that has cropped up either, rather trading urban soul of juke and the clinical pressures of modern drum and bass for something more surreal and terrifying. If “Badminded” isn’t on the 2016 “best of” compilations at years end, something is terribly wrong.

Badminded will be released April 8th and is available to pre-order from Unearthed Sounds, Redeye, White Peach, Eastern Bloc and Intense Records.

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