Bristol is no stranger to music collectives: Boasting a thriving, grass roots arts scene that has played a large part in why the city’s music and nightlife scene have consistently challenged people’s often “London-centric” opinions. One of the newer groups hoping to add to this legacy is CNCPT Collective, who after a string of free tracks and mixes (which are definitely worth checking out), have come up with their debut album. The first track I listened to: ‘Eastwood’ by Koma, also happens to be one of my favourite: The rolling, ghostly percussion punctuated by syncopated kicks and a groaning bass line create a hypnotic track that would work both on the dance floor and during home listening. After the second drop, the track reveals its final form with the introduction of warped vocal samples backed by the now grittier sub and percussion, making for a heavier, more sinister finale. ‘Eastwood’ is definitely a song that merits start to finish listening, so don’t miss out.
Following a similar sinister vibe, Cartridge’s ‘Succulent’ features a chattering synth surrounded by trappy percussion. Fans of Samba & Chokez’s ‘Ghastly’ will likely be fans of this one too. Sub Basics stays true to his name with ‘Oracle’: A dark, menacing tune, which is minimal in everything but sub pressure. Samples and pads reverberate around a bass line that is always up to something, vying for your attention. The song gradually increases in urgency over its duration and features drum fills that sound like muted gunfire. For me it was definitely one of the album’s stronger tracks and felt like he had channelled some Kahn-esque murkiness. ‘Spooky Dub VIP’ is also up there for me. The original, released on Version Collective back in February, was a serious head nodder. The VIP however, is one for the skankers: Packing a snarlier bassline and more wooden percussion, Mr. K has injected some extra energy into the beat. I feel it stands on its own, and isn’t just some lacklustre edit with a slight change to the melody.
Beanzo’s ‘System Error’ is a stomper. The foreboding main synth/sample is nicely textured, and is the basis of the track’s evil sound. Then you have ‘Marijuana’ by Chad Dubz, which, whilst also being a stomper, is so in a different way. It sounds pretty much how you’d expect a song called ‘Marijuana’ to sound, with a no-nonsense Dubbed-out vibe: classic Dub samples, percussion and melodica all reverberating over an unyielding sub. Slothman’s ‘Far I’ also takes a degree of Dub influence with its vocal samples and organ usage, however the influence ends there: The beat is far from relaxed, instead opting for a relentless kick-driven arrangement, with spooky chimes and pads permeating throughout. All three are solid songs and will no doubt be among some listener’s favourites, however I couldn’t help but wish they all had slightly more variation or progression within them.
Chokez has generated plenty of his own buzz the last couple years, and ‘Mango Skank’ is a good showcase of why: The playful, shuffling percussion and bouncing sub make it nigh impossible to not at least nod your head to it. Sandwiched in the middle of the sound is the quirky, spaced-out melody, which periodically fades out to allow the movement of the sub to take centre stage. This one has progressively grown on me the more I listen to it, and is another one of my personal picks from the album. Glume – another producer who has been swiftly rising through the ranks – comes up with a trippy offering simply named ‘UH’. This one is another example of something you can bounce to, with its high hats and sub seeming to hop and skip around the track in tandem. To complement it all, you have otherworldly high frequencies and synths layered over, some of which slowly fluctuate, almost like sirens. ‘UH’ has a fairly unique vibe that might be best suited for the dance floor, so DJ’s should lookout.
As for the MC’s: Motu’s ‘Flyte’ is begging for one. Trappy yet minimal high hats and claps give a raw, steely structure to the hard sub and accompanying grimey mid bass, which is finally topped off with what almost sounds like a robot screaming. Still of course a solid track on its own, but I suspect having a good mc spitting over it is when it may really shine. Sepia, ever the versatile beat-maker, brings some RnB flavours to the album with ‘Love Letter’. Chopped up samples, pitched up vocals and a funky, yearning guitar all combine for a song that certainly fits its title. This feels like it could have been on a Pearly Whites release and is a refreshing dose of light-heartedness in an album that has its fair share of darkness. Sepia again shows you can’t pin him down to one style or atmosphere, and I’m excited to see what else he comes up with in the future.
‘Alice Land’ by The Greys is another track which choses the light over the dark, at least to an extent. Post-drop is initially quite minimal, with a tough, rolling bass line to provide the melody, however after the introduction of strange samples and dreamy pads, the song becomes reminiscent of older Silkie and Quest. For those who have been to Outlook Festival, it’s the kind of song that might get played on the beach as the afternoon in drawing in. Still, despite the dreamy portions, the track still has some hardness to it, and the regular interchange between those two feelings helps it to stand out on the album. Straight from the beach and diving into the ocean, Rygby’s ‘Pyramidz’ is dominated by an ominous, rumbling sub that periodically gives way to percussive “gasps”, like a swimmer struggling against the current. By all means a solid song, however I prefer his other releases, such as the recent DUPLOC022, which I feel does a better job of showing his creativity as a producer. In CNCPT collective’s future, I’d like to see more of that side of him being expressed.
Last but not least, Roy Bar comes at you with ‘Screamer’, which, despite the name, sounds more like an Amen break-fuelled infiltration of enemy territory. Despite being the longest track on the album at almost 8 minutes, the song maintains a high level of detail till the end: Primarily in the chopping of the drum breaks, which have clearly had a lot of time spent on them, as well as the eerie, creaking samples and pads which give it an abandoned building vibe. I can easily zone into this track, and it does well to keep you interested and reward your attention. Overall this is a strong, well-rounded debut album from CNCPT Collective. I particularly liked the strength of variety across the release, and I think almost everyone will at the very least be able to find one track that they’re feeling. Its also a good insight into some names you’ll likely be seeing more and more of in the scene in the next coming years, so if you want to be ahead of the curve, I suggest you give it a listen.