Gaze Ill – Hydrated EP [GB014]

GourmetBeats might as well open up a buffet (with both vegan and vegetarian options) as Joe Nice and company continue to whip up delectable servings of 100% USDA approved bass and beats. For their fourteenth course, Joe enlists the services of Danish sous-chef Gaze Ill (né: Sune Vosbein-Jensen) for a three course meal that features light and refreshing dishes that will cleanse the palate after those heavy holiday meals.

“Hydrated” has been showcased, blended and twisted into various deconstructions across many a Joe Nice set for the past two years and appropriately so. “Hydrated” is what Joe likes to call a percussion salad. With its pronounced conga lines and “hey hey hey” hip hop sample, its a track that doesn’t over power in the mix, subtly complimenting whatever track its drizzled over, much like cranberry sauce over a slab of Thanksgiving Day turkey. It has enough low-end to boot, but “Hydrated” services itself more completely when contrasted against another track. The track’s zen comes from its spartan structure, allowing itself to easily clasp on other tracks with unfussy ease and enhances them the better for it.

While “Hydrated” has the half step on lock, Gaze Ill shifts up the menu with “Crusher”. It nicely shuffles with a 1999-2002 era dark garage rhythmic framework sounding like it could have been an unearthed El-B or Zed Bias track from back in the day. With almost zero melodic content and tastefully rude snarls, it balances its rudebwoy tendencies and feminine pressure sub weight in spades without falling prey into RnB sap or the dark pit of skunk paranoia that those early dubstep tracks exhibited. Praise aside for its efficiency, “Crusher” is on the forgettable side of things after the impressive first course of “Hydrated”.

Finishing strong with my favorite dish of “Clean 131”. Like a reinterpreted “Hydrated” “Clean 131” replaces sweet with sour. With sample DNA grafted from a horror movie, “Clean 131” rolls out into similar fashion to “Hydrated” but with added layers of nuance with noir swells and percussive intensity. It’s incessant ride symbols allow the track a continued momentum compared with “Hydrated” spritely step, and its offset snare snaps create counterpoint for interesting blending combinations. Much like the beginning dish, “Clean 131” is more a sauce that a full dish, enhancing the flavors and textures of whatever it is lovingly ladled over.

In closing, Gaze Ill’s debut on GourmetBeats highlights his reductionist vision of dubstep, devoid of melody or only hinting at it, the beats become vehicles for combinations greater than themselves. While strong enough to stand on their own, they become perfected with the right configurations of blends and in the process shines a spotlight on what makes tracks subtly great; their zen simplicity with percussion and their selfless service of whatever they’re mixed with.

Hydrated is out now and available from Unearthed Sounds, Redeye, White Peach, Juno and Intense Records.

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