SkintDisco joins one of the highest quality 140 labels around with his EP: The Pipe. Featuring five original tracks and two remixes from Zygos and Koma, it’s a journey through the mechanical void. With recent tracks out on Glassy Records, a hellish collaboration with D£DW8 and some forthcoming rumblers on Silent Motion Records, SkintDisco is prepped and ready to make some serious moves. The clarity and quality behind Encrypted Audio’s voice is crystal. Intelligent, intricately simple basslines are surrounded by innovative and evocative sound design. After putting out one of the most lovingly homebrewed innovations in storytelling dubstep – Kronodigger’s ‘Mechanism’ EP (ENC032) – and an asteroid that left a crater in the 140 scene – Samba and Chokez’ ‘Ghastly’ (ENV015) – it’s hard not to get hyped when they announce new material. Evident in SkintDisco’s latest EP, The Pipe, are influences of the label history, hints of riddim and the desire to build a consistent universe where multiple stories can take place, all linked by their environment.
With a name seemingly rustled out of a lucky dip bag, ‘Blutack’ opens The Pipe EP. It introduces the crisp, spacious and mechanical underworld where our story takes place. Reverb emanating from distant darkness gives the impression of intricate steel pathways twisting over a bottomless void inhabited by ancient, chained machines that call from the depths. Preluding Zygos’ remix of ‘Type Zero’, it falls heavily left and right, animated by squiggly electronic pulsations. With all this evoking, it’s clear that the main events are yet to come. A drowned shamisen plucks a storytelling riff to introduce ‘Issa’, before unyielding drills storm periodically over it. The shrill gargles that rise, reverberated from the deep, evoke a H.R. Geiger meets H.P. Lovecraft world filled with unnameable creatures of disgusting, mechanised, unimaginably vast forms. An Easter egg leading back to grime, in case none of you recognised the ghostly hype man invoking the drop, is the voice of Jammer as he witnesses Skepta and Devilman going head to head. After some of the gear-grinding drop pushes through, some elaboration, divergence or switch-up becomes welcome, but never arrives.
Which is where ‘Mad Hatter’s’ imprisoned cousin, ‘Suffer’, comes in. Led by broken bells, one of the Lovecraftian monsters takes centre stage and rampages through the metallic underworld. Structured between this terrifying hook, a minimalist pop and a smoky, creeping introduction, ‘Suffer’ keeps the pace fluid and interesting. Whilst Hebbe’s ‘Mad Hatter’ is a clear relative to ‘Suffer’, the hair-raising introduction and monster-following drop also shows links to Bukez Finest’s ‘Unknown Force’ on Deep Medi. I love the idea of pitting a central creature as the main character and designing the movements of the music around it. To me, that’s what those wretched cousins do. With a dystopian, sci-fi underworld fully elucidated by the first three tracks, the stage is set for ‘The Pipe’, the title tune destined to break noses this summer. If I’m not hospitalised in the mosh-pit where this is chopped with Dalek One’s ‘Mumble Dub’, then I’m doing it myself. Hit with a steady, yet uncontrollable bassline pushed forward by some bloke shouting “pipe”, it’s a sub-focused marcher with intricate detail all over the mix. I think someone keeps sneezing as well. Being chosen to remix ‘The Pipe’ would have been unfortunate for anybody. Taking it to a new room, Koma strips “The Pipe” into a more focused, techno-style drive complete with mesmerizing, spattered percussion and eerie-Bladerunner-skyline pads. It’s a decent crack at an adamantium Buckminsterfullerene.
Dropping within thirty seconds, ‘Type Zero’ is the perfect track to pull the rug out from underneath some overly chaotic, high-end enthusiastic track and slap the dance back2bassics. Again, a monster, more shrill and crooked this time, takes centre stage. High pitch gargles of a ‘Ghastly’ influence crackle through the swagger inducing drums. Boiling the pipe beasts down and dragging them back to the laboratory to study, ex-Power Ranger villain, Zygos, turns on the flickering gas lamps and gets to work dissecting them. Methodical, rolling fear permeates the track. The introductory arpeggio is transformed into a steampunk cop-car gliding around the secret workshop, searching. It’s certainly more geared to a blank-faced 5am skank than SkintDisco’s lively original mix. The chapters of this steel underworld grow into their dancefloor boots by track four, ‘The Pipe’, which is being copied to the USB’s “take-everywhere” folder right now. While ‘Blutack’ and ‘Issa’ do get the energy flowing, they don’t shine like ‘Suffer’ and ‘Type Zero’, which bop along just behind the title track. From an EP perspective though, their dynamic, reverb-infused methods craft a deep world for the bangers to exist within. His next EP already devised, SkintDisco’s hitting up a label ready to let more gurgled horror into its innovative windpipe, Silent Motion Records. Keep your ears peeled.