For the latest instalment in the “Groove Booty” series, B9, Geode, Congi and Jafu are joined by guest producers Ago, Circula, Mercy, Facta and K-LONE for their fourth collaborative album and first vinyl release. Fans of Chord Marauders will be acquainted with the collective’s sound – dense percussion peppered with soulful samples – and the producers’ tireless dedication to delivering powerful and progressive tunes. Covering 3 years of work, “Groove Booty 4” shows us the Marauders past and present, but still has an undeniably timeless quality.
A good deal of dubstep relies on elements of dub, reggae and other types of sound system music, but on “Groove Booty”, jazz is the backbone. Diminished chords, syncopated rhythms and bluesy piano samples underpin much of this album, from B9’s frenetic “Bip Bap Bop” to Circula’s slow and sexy “For Esbjorn”. That said, the Marauders do explore other influences, experimenting with a mix of early 00s garage with late 00s footwork later in the album on Geode’s “Moments”.
The group is known for their focus on closely packed polyrhythms, but each of the artists’ nuances – Geode’s future garage flair; Congi’s sonorous percussion; B9’s subaqueous melodies – stops the music becoming endlessly complex, indecipherable drum patterns. Whilst rhythm is central to their music, it’s not the only thing they excel at. There’s a great deal of melodic variety on this record – just a glance at the tracklist – “Gold Wash”; “December”; “Barbados” – suggests the array of moods and soundscapes on the agenda.
Getting off to an energetic start, Jafu layers elegant synth interjections over a stuttering rhythm on “Scrap Book”. Geode’s fiery, percussion-heavy “Portal” continues the spirited groove. “A Theme For The Cosmos” creates a delicate contrast; Congi skillfully mixing orchestral samples and vocal snippets over graceful yet persistent rhythmic layers. The B-side rolls in on a gentle wave with Ago’s “Autumn”, an atmospheric, spacious tune rattling over sparse percussion, proving the versatile Italian producer’s ability in crafting gentle chill-out music as much as hard-hitting bangers like “So Mi Seh”.
Things get dark on the C-side; Congi and Jafu’s melancholic “December” sets a new wintry tone, followed by the equally frosty – and misleadingly-named – “Barbados”. “Scrumpy”, B9, Geode and Congi’s collaborative effort, ricochets with bludgeoning counter rhythms and the occasional groaning synth. The final (digital-only) tracks are certainly more laid-back, but no less carefully crafted. From the languid “Triad” to the sensual, jazz-flecked “Gold Wash” to the calming outro “Visions”, this conclusion to the album consists of some of the Marauders’ best work.
On a record this long, it’s inevitable that some tracks are more filler than killer, but this is no criticism – they act as necessary segues, giving the album shape and fluidity. Though this is ostensibly a “dubstep” record, it doesn’t fit neatly within the normal constraints of the genre. By daring to explore the higher frequencies and holding nothing back on percussion, all whilst maintaining bass quality, the Chord Marauders show that they mean business on their fourth, and undoubtedly finest, album.