Review: Cliques – Chro / Chro (Wen Remix) [LAB016]

To be frank, I am not familiar with who Cliques are. They may be newcomers, they may be incognito heavy hitters, I just don’t know. However in the 16th installment of Aquatic Lab transmissions, Cliques raves in the hypnotic tribal affair of ‘Chro’ and is punctuated with a pleasingly depressed, psychotropic remix by the wunderkind Wen. Both possess there own rhythmic strengths, yet the Wen remix wins out in the end due its bass-bin blowing sub pressure and more adventurous sonics.

In the original mix of ‘Chro’, Cliques deploy bleary and starry-eyed grime synths to arc the nightline of a future city. A ghostly, time-stretched voice wails out from dubspace following it’s natural course in between the wet alleys and neon burned brick walls. Dry percs indebted to El-B or early Pangaea swing with gusto and come armed with some tasteful dubbed out flourishes to darken the dance a tad. Over the course of ‘Chro’ the 2-step morphs with the subtle additions of tribal rhythmic pivots. To top it off, it’s all glazed acrossed a soca-infused plummeting b-line that’ll wiggle your bottom.

Down below, Wen reinforces the sub pressure with pitbull snarls and Pulse-X lazer cannon detonations. While the star-gazing synths are taken down a pitch or two to darken things up, its the more throughly dubby effects that are liberally applied to the percussion that create that off-putting haunted house vibe. Wen’s characteristic use of vocal snippets and other head-wrecking FX add to the already sepulchral proceedings. Turning the 2-step rhythmic foundation on it’s head, Wen loosens the ‘itchiness’ of the original, allowing enough space for the bass to do its work across a barely there grime inflected crossbreed with garage. Imagine the original mix of ‘Chro’ locked in cryo-sleep on a derelict spaceship and you’ve got some approximation of how the Wen refix sounds.

All in all, it’s a strong release by Cliques that’s perfect to slip in between that Wen & Parris plate that came out on Tempa a few weeks ago as well as stuff that’s coming out of the Cold Recordings camp and furthermore anything 130bpm or below that follows dubstep’s ideological aesthetic of dread-infused sound-scaping. I’ll be sure to keep my eyes open and ears to the ground more closely next time around.

LAB016 is out now and available from Unearthed Sounds, Redeye and Juno Download.