Etch has never been one to stick to one specific sound. Though his music is rooted in jungle and hardcore, he also hinted at dubstep, grime and UK Garage through his releases on Keysound, Soundman Chronicles or Wisdom Teeth, which all display different takes on his sound. This made the announcement of his new project, Bun The Grid, a label he founded with like-minded jungle-enthusiast Ilk, whose releases this year showed the same ear for chopped breakbeats, all the more exciting: built as a way to tread on new musical ground, Bun The Grid goes for a more experimental approach, turning down any constraint of style or BPM. BTG001, the label’s first release, is thus an ambitious piece of work, especially as it brings in two more artists that appear fit for such a project on remix duties – Gantz and Moresounds.
Opener “Yo Yo Riddim” makes things clear in a matter of seconds: Etch marches on hip-hop territory with a cutting, hypnotic beat which advances relentlessly, surrounded by troubled atmospherics. The vocal sample, which gives the track its title, seems to float over the other sounds, cut and repeated until it sounds otherworldly. On his remix of the track, Gantz exploits its psychedelic feeling, immersing its elements into ether for narcotic effects. The original beat is slowed down and darkened until it turns into sonic sludge. In typical Gantz fashion, the tune is then turned inside-out, as maniac synths arise from the void to close the track. The result is stunning, and manages to perfectly illustrate Bun The Grid’s motto.
Ilk then steps up, kicking things in with progressive rhythm work which initially seems to prepare the ground for more traditional junglist concerns. Once more, expectations are broken, as the looped breakbeats that appear in the center of the track are heavily distorted, sounding gritty and almost industrial. The abrasive tones which sit on top of that framework highlight Ilk’s impressive sense of balance and composition, as the sum of these elements never sounds excessive or muddy. Rising French producer Moresounds rounds things off with a remix of the track that starts bringing out its jungle components, before sending the tune into space, with sounds seemingly fluttering in the mix. It’s hard to think of a more perfect closer for such a release, as even though it seems more dancefloor-fitting than its predecessors, it also pertains to a similar space, melting sounds and styles to try and create something different.
Overall, BTG001 thus constitutes a promising manifesto for Etch and Ilk’s project. All the tunes presented here possess a distinct atmosphere, that of artists trying things out, which makes for a great and interesting listen – one that starts things off in an excellent manner for Bun The Grid.