Los-Angeles based, heavy-hitter Oxóssi follows his Coki-esque “Malevolent”, on Gourmet Beats, with an altogether different beast. A return to Sleeper’s Crucial recordings sees the creation of the well-crafted, relentless “Escher EP”, where offbeat, dynamic syncopation meets down-the-line rhythms to challenge throughout the four-track outing. The starkly contrasting tracks reinforce the individuality of the producer, displaying the broad range of unbiased influences which provide the foundations upon which he moulds his own disfigured creations.
The opening, and title track “Escher”, establishes an ominous tone from the outset. Lingering piano chords underpin the main motif for the track, which appears out of a mist of reverb in the form of a panic-stricken arpeggio riff. As it pans left and then right, it’s accompanied by a pounding, but controlled, sub-bass which mirrors the relentlessly rapid lead. Thunderclaps and the slamming of doors brings us to a thoroughly unexpected detour, where displaced drums, staccato synths and Rhodes-like chords disrupt the rolling nature of the opening, creating an engaging foil to the rest of the track.
“&” seems to me to be the song that really embodies the hip-hop influence in Oxóssi’s work. A regular, Boom-Bap kick and snare pattern begins the song, with a low octave melody leading the way. This lulls you into a false routine however, as the pattern is chopped and screwed over the course of the song, interrupted with drum rolls and moments unexpected of silence. When that low octave melody finally returns after a palpable breakdown, its unrecognisable, having been manipulated within an inch of its life, as its drones across the percussion.
“The Fall of Mevia” is jam-packed full of 8-bit goodness. Not only from the rolling refrain which continues in different guises throughout, but the Game Boy explosions that are layered over snares add a level of nostalgia to proceedings. Contrasted, but also intertwined with these lo-fi elements, are eastern influenced pipes and enough spring reverb to bring to the forefront the numerous styles and techniques adopted throughout Oxóssi’s production.
Now, I said that elements of the EP were challenging, but the closing number “Nightmares” is the embodiment of that. It starts off simple enough, with regular hats that keep heads nodding, but what follows is as far away from a head-nodder as you could get, with off-kilter drums that force you to keep finding and re-finding your rhythm. Think breakcore, but slowed way, way down. It takes a couple of listens, but what once felt completely disconnected seems to fall into place, where you thought there was no place for it before.
Crucial Recordings go from strength to strength, and Oxóssi’s “Escher EP” is yet another in a long line of feathers in their cap. This instalment explores not only well-trodden, but also completely fresh territories, with each track combining a palpable tension with a freedom to study different styles beyond the confines of conventional bass music.