In the space of a few years, Australia’s Travis Baker has fast become an artist with global appeal. The young producer, best known as one quarter of the Chord Marauders, has appeared on New Zealand’s Red Shift One, London’s Mindstep, and now the Miami-based Version Collective, who, despite being a “digital” label, have made his latest EP their first ever vinyl release.
Although the name suggests the natural sounds of the Papua New Guinean forest, the Kiburu EP is filled with dark, dangerous basslines not dissimilar to those found on Tempa’s back catalogue. However, B9 avoids the “dungeon” sound by bringing the lighter timbres in his percussive layers to the fore. Saying that, there’s nothing sweet about “Haribo”; a lingering introduction of echoing horror movie sounds creates a creepy atmosphere that pervades the remaining 4 minutes of visceral, pounding beats and embellishing congo drum accents. Featuring everything from panpipe samples to jazzy motifs to shuffling UK Garage rhythms, title track “Kiburu” combines several of B9’s far-flung influences into a powerful show-stealer that sounds neither too sample-based nor too spliced together. The EP ends with the dub-influenced “Toofta Toofta”, which, like many releases this year, begins with reverberating snares and the ubiquitous ‘dub artist vocal snippet’. But naysayers of the genre’s current dubwise trajectory will be pleased to know the similarities end there. B9 offers up yet another engulfing bassline and layers of restless percussion in this hard-hitting final track.
There’s no denying that B9 has dynamic polyrhythms and hypnotic basslines down to a science, but the beautiful interweaving melodic lines found on many of his earlier releases seldom appear on Kiburu. And while the final track takes a brief detour into dubbier territories, there isn’t much sonic or structural variety on the EP; I can’t help but wonder why none of his more tuneful and arguably fresher beats didn’t make the cut. Nonetheless, B9’s complex yet clean arrangements demonstrate his skill as a producer, and are certainly worthy of making it to wax.