Bass frequencies are such an important aspect of roots music and it’s easy to forget about the other layers that build up to complement the punching weight with depth and delicacy. Hold Tight Records’ latest offering from Dutchie, perfectly exemplifies the importance of musicality and whilst the bassline is heavy enough, the laid back lyrics, soulful vocals and jazz inspired sax riffs are what make these tracks stand out.
Straight in with calming, make-the-hairs-on-your-neck-stand-up vocals, Dutchie certainly isn’t messing around with the most minimal dub release we’ve seen from Hold Tight so far. Absent of sirens and a hit you in the face wobbling bass, the aptly named “Easy” does just that, warming you up for what the rest of the EP has to offer. Layers of simplistically engaging sax riffs laid down by the talented Tenor Steppa bounce off vocals and staccato offbeat keys, giving it that authentic dub feel while the melodic elements are rooted in jazz and swing. From start to finish the EP has a very live element to it, the rich organic sounds bring the tracks to life whilst the drums and bass line keep your mind in the rhythm of the music. “Forward” is another powerful number keeping those smooth vibes rolling through with the addition of a trumpet. I couldn’t quite work out why the vocals sounded so familiar until I’d listened to the EP a good few times and it suddenly dawned on me, they’re Dutchie’s vocals.
As other-worldly chimes resonate, an atmospheric rumble signifies a much darker take on Dutchie’s original “Easy” dub remixed by Halcyonic. This industrial contribution is laden with dischordal synths and layers of drum samples that you hear more of as you listen through it again and again. Any grime fan could indulge in this with gun fingers at the ready, but Dutchie’s original instrumental and vocal samples bring it back to its roots, giving it that counterbalance of femininity. Known for his sound system stompers, Bukkha’s remix of “Forward” brings the tempo down to a meditative 110bpm and from its promising first beat I’m already certain my speakers aren’t going to be enough to do this track justice. It’s the kind of track you consider standing a foot away further from the rig than you normally would cause when the bass kicks in you can feel it punch through the air with a heavy weight force.
Artists like Dutchie blur the lines between live and digital music. Her original samples add so much personality to this, invoking images of it being performed by a band rather than on a CDJ. She balances introspective, melodic lyrics with minimalist drum beats and enough bass to satisfy any sound system warrior.