Review: Gantz – Witch Blues EP [MEDI085]

After a string of fire releases, the Turkish delight returns back to foundational label Deep Medi for what is possible his most sprawling and fully realized piece of music(s) yet. His trademark sonic mindfuckery is still present, but like a fine wine time has tempered Gantz’s more out-there tendencies with slivers of melody and refractions of askew beauty that shimmer out of his tribalist freakouts. As Gantz further pushes himself outside “normal” dubstep patterns and into more abstract territory, his trajectory reminds me, at least at a personal level, like that of Burial. The same aesthetic data of Burial – the hand-crafted feel of his beat structure, the grit and dirt of the overall sonics, the brief shards of beauty or melancholia amongst cathartic sub weight – maps itself onto the EP as a whole quite nicely. I’d suggest repeated listening to later era Burial (read: Kindred, Rival Dealer, Truant) and compare it with ‘Witch Blues’ EP to follow my train of thought if you don’t get what I’m aiming at. Enough of me waxing poetic though, let’s get to it.

‘Psuedoo’ opens with a ruff sample (perhaps circa ‘90) on ‘reality rap’. Meanwhile, the 808 percussion tumbles and staggers like some drunken master in a multi-tentacled polyrhythmic frenzy until its get sucked into the Ur-consciousness of a busted roland space. Another voice adds to the chorus, commenting on the lyrical qualities of what has to have been the folk devil of gangsta rap in the 1990s. The sub returns and brings with it a sun-lit, almost folk-like melody that climbs and descends, swirling around your head. Primal utterances and that “caw” sample Gantz uses so much gets thrown in for good measure as the percussion returns back to it’s polyrhythmic foundation. The short and sweet ‘Witch Blues’ is a weird call and response between what could be a Derrick Trucks youtube rip of him playing the slide and Gantz’s interpretation of the slide melody. Gantz’s reinterpretation refracts the melody, choosing to making it an almost nursery rhyme arpeggio as Gantz detunes, retunes and time-stretches the melody into beguiling figures. Things break down even further as he warps the melody beyond recognition to counterpoint the original theme.

‘Rockstar’ finds Gantz on the buttons with partner in crime Rider Shafique supplying the bars. What could be a detuned koto forms the riff as Rider waxes on the warlike nature of man with equal parts Rasta portents and Muslim visions of global uprisings, the break-down of borders, the mass chaos that ensures in war – the birth pangs of the future. Beat-wise, Gantz remains relatively tame, though his lurching percussive ticks are in place. The sound of dubspace moving through tunnels creeps every now and again as well, however, the real highlight is Rider Shafique. Lastly, Gantz closes the EP with the surprisingly beautiful and melancholic ‘Supreme A’. Spiraling out of dubspace, an oud (maybe) gets broken and restructured into a gossamer mosaic of tragically elegant melodies as bugs chirp and whir for percussion. A voice mutters “why don’t I withdraw” and Gantz shifts the rhythm into a tighter, more focused piece that anchors itself to a baroque counterpoint of harp that is characteristically detuned, fed through a broken MPC and sequenced into a nagging, beautifully askew melodic theme. As we draw towards the end, time becomes a ring and the same voice that opened ‘Baby Face’ bookends ‘Supreme A’ with what could be the detuned harp but in it’s amended, original form.

The sample the closes ‘Supreme A’ and opens ‘Baby Face’ can be perceived as an endless feedback loop, forever circling itself. Time is a ring after all. And from that endless loop, Gantz plays by his own rules, operating at the periphery of dubstep’s templates, stretching them beyond were they are and what they can become. His EP pushes the DNA of dubstep further and aligns him closer to predecessors like Skull Disco, early Hyperdub, and later Burial. His disregard for what dubstep should sound like is what this music is about, no rules just a tempo to follow and further pushes what Deep Medi is and can become.

MEDI085 is out now and available from the Deep Medi Store. Artwork by Katharina Ziemke.

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