Two years after Rocks Foe ‘Set It Straight‘ on ACRE060, Commodo returns to Black Acre wielding a highly anticipated four-track EP. Mouths have been watering ever since title track ‘Dyrge’ started appearing in the Sheffielder producer’s set over a year ago, and then in clips online, sparking endless rumours about the track’s title, release date and the label backing it. finally, the smoke has cleared. Black Acre, the publishing and management company with a record label at its heart, has snapped up the release. That’s a good thing, because the open-minded soundwaves under their umbrella play to an audience wider than just sound system heads, which means fresh ears to turn towards the stacks.
What will attract them? Unlike many dubstep EPs, ‘Dyrge’ feels like it belongs as much in the home-sound system as it does on Sinai’s. Any newcomers looking to see Commodo for the first time may well get their heads blown off when they realise what their new favourite EP does on a system. Without the context of the dancefloor, the EP feels like the cinematic score for an old detective movie, where a thread of supernatural murders leads to the uncovering of a myth too big for prohibition New York City to handle. The voice of Rorschach and his dismal insights on the world and its criminal activities would fit alongside each track except ‘Yuliya’, which is where the ancient mythological aspect of the detective story leaves New York City and its dirty human suffering behind.
Standard elements of dubstep are intact, with the snare in ‘Leeroy’ perhaps being the crispiest a snare ever was. Structurally speaking, no walls have been broken. The freshly sharpened edge of ‘Dyrge’ EP is the combination of its calm, non-synthetic weight; its sly, yet unforgettable hooks; and the organic textures of the sound-design, from sample choice to manipulation. ‘Bitch & Moan’s’ dirgeful, discordant piano thuds and grungy guitar licks (that don’t remind you of your cringy metalhead teenage years) fit into the swing-heavy dubstep beat composed of dusty jazz-rides and crumpled toms. Aside from the clearly recognisable instruments plucking through the tracks, an array of unidentifiable, non-electronic items whirr, crackle, swoop and warp. It feels as though these atmospheric samples are rarely returned to, always changing. If they do reappear then it is in a new, altered form.
Title track, ‘Dyrge’, is a sly number fit for the Pink Panther and his mysteries. The frequency spectrum fizzles authentically up top, plinks and plonks the insatiable hook in-between and shifts with a moody double bass down below. A cold, Resident Evil atmosphere enters with the opening Casio choir. Somewhere in the slight tremble of that sly little hook is an LA sunset and the silhouette of Snoop Dogg’s convertible bouncing up and down. ‘Bitch & Moan’ opens the EP like a broken tape, before exploring the lonely blue realm of a mentally unstable, reclusive X-Files bad-guy, as told by a beautiful butterfly melody that leads a guitar and double bass naively forward to a pit of progressively darkening, self-loathing staccato-frustration. These two juxtapositions vie for attention in a swanky prohibition nightclub. Its pace leaves it less dancefloor ready than ‘Dyrge’, but it remains cinematically invigorating with a vivid storyline.
There’s got to be one that doesn’t quite cut it, and this one’s ‘Leeroy’. After the first 16-bars, the dead man’s swing is ready to dribble, explode or rip into an interesting new area, or at least that’s what the first two tracks had led me to expect. Instead, it continues until the end, minus a brief interlude by a slowed section similar to ‘Bitch & Moan’s’ stuttering dirge. While the core riff is added to, manipulated and also confused by forgotten-toy-shop SFX, ‘Leeroy’ isn’t quite as enigmatic as his counterparts. Which helps the beautiful ‘Yuliya’ stand out a little more than she already does. To round off the back-alley-skulking EP, Commodo invites South-East Asian influenced chimes and an army of patiently thundering drums to create a holy moment in the rave.
It seems as though Commodo has searched and gathered material far beyond the walls of dubstep to create the Dyrge EP, which feels both intimately related and unrecognisable to dancefloors and sound systems at the same time. The excitement from fans surrounding this release, as well as the recent success of EPs like Soukah’s ‘Windowlicka‘ (where the B-side becomes a cinematic exploration of sound design), shows the positivity and support behind a genre becoming more flexible and the new types of interesting things people want to hear being pumped out of a sound system. It’s worth any up-and-coming producers to take note of and exploit, because diversity and experimentation is being highly praised. With Black Acre at the helm and a baying crowd of excited fans to support it, Commodo’s ‘Dyrge’ is sure to be turning plenty of raves into mystery-ridden prohibition gang haunts all summer and beyond.