Oxóssi – Dark Passenger EP [DDD030]

Oxóssi’s first instalment on the label since “Cities Of Salt” tinkers with a variety of bass-driven styles, from classic DMZ-esque drops in “Dark Passenger”, to the creative bleeps and bloops of “Tippy-Toeing”. It marks the 30th release on a label that is racing forward and loving the ride as much as the driver on the EP’s album art. What connects the four tracks? Perhaps only the weight in the kicks and sub-power. You wouldn’t instantly assume that the bone-grinding, glitched-to-oblivion synths in “Tokoloshe” were one track off “Ride It”, whose clear bassline sometimes bounces like a dub track. Altogether, it acts a showcase for the range of Oxóssi’s styles.

Title track “Dark Passenger”, like Hebbe’s “Mad Hatter” on Crucial Recordings, pays homage to a lineage of wonk reminiscent of early DMZ. Overlaying the crispy wobbles, a flute and its counterparts describe a sneaky night-time castle escape and quiet chords that hark back to Kaiju’s “Justice” float hauntingly in the background. It’s great to see something of this ilk being released on a USA-based label. Though it’s not surprising, given Truth’s (label heads) history stretching back to 2009 with their MEDI013 release. “Tippy-Toeing” starts its journey slowly as a simplistic bassline that pushes confidently forward. This seems at first like a tedious, merely adequate power level compared to the last track. The basic rhythm doesn’t show any sign of impending variation. Then after a moment of silence, a smooth arpeggio bubbles out, followed by a tinkling music box and… a robotic duck? Once they’ve all had their merry jaunt together, a break beat starts karate chopping the spacious, slow-paced rhythm alongside a twisted choir. The originality, confidence and humour in the sounds and progression make this awesome track the stand-out on the EP.

Where did Lemmy (Motorhead vocalist, RIP) go when he died? Probably to some fiery pit where motorcycles live equally alongside humans, chugging exhaust fumes and fire across a charred landscape. I imagine it sounds very similar to “Tokoloshe” although the word actually refers to a hairy, mischievous and notably lascivious water-sprite from African folktales. “Chainsaw Calligraphy” meets Gantz in this death metal dirge, whose style you can find much more of in the medieval “Escher EP” released on Crucial Recordings last year. An extremely satisfying moment in the song is when all the mid-range static boils down into a thick, oily pool of sub. Saule hops in the death car for “Ride It”, the slick final track. This well-oiled machine slides into a grungy squelcher to end the main section, returning to a dub-influenced bassline and giving way to a descending, well-paced melody. It massively juxtaposes “Tokoloshe”, in that everything is crisp, clearly structured and far easier on the ears. I’d put this one just below “Tippy-Toeing”.

The sounds of Oxóssi stand side-by-side, giving you a taste of his influences and styles that have been developed over eight releases on six different labels. Unafraid to drive at full speed through hellish darkness, create a plodding symphony out of unrelated, strange objects, as well as build A-grade squelchers in more generic styles, Oxóssi is definitely a producer to watch as these styles continue to grow.

Dark Passenger is released March 23rd and available from Unearthed Sounds, Redeye, White Peach, Juno, Intense Records, Beatport and the Deep Dark & Dangerous Store.

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