One forty frontiersman Sleeper has been steadily looking for his own frequencies since the golden Minimal Mondays on Rinse FM back in 2010-2012. Further evolving into his own signature sound, he set up his own imprint Crucial Recordings in 2015 to support upcoming artists, as well as push his own cutting edge productions. The ‘Smoke & Mirrors’ EP, Crucial’s 17th release to date, is a prime example of these pioneering releases in sound system music.
Sleeper kicks things off with a heavily reverbed dub vocal on ‘Le Goonz’, my personal favourite on this EP, to set the mood. A menacing arp accompanied by various foley slowly but surely takes us to the ominous stabs which now define Sleeper’s signature sound. Stripping away all elements except for said stabs but replacing them with a weighty drum and 808 sub pattern, Sleeper keeps the listener on his toes by introducing various shakers in a wide stereo spectrum before re-introducing the aforementioned elements layered with a royal horn stab. Title track ‘Smoke & Mirrors’ continues defining this threatening atmosphere with the use of similar horns and slightly detuned bells before plunging into a sudden switch up. Stab melodies are continuously changed in a very delicate and subtle manner. While the sub is layered with an almost unnoticeable distortion resonance which adds grit and texture to the overall feel of the track. Constant switch melodies and sample switch ups make this one of those must have tracks for any DJ who keeps up with the current trends in the bass music scene.
A repetitive vocal sample and the by now well known stabs lead us into the very low end drop on ‘Greens’. Simple drum patterns and a hefty sub line briefly transports listeners back to Sleeper’s more traditional take on the sound, but all this changes when the signature stabs return with a vengeance, accompanied by a raw midrange that reminds me of the earlier mentioned Youngsta days. ‘Greens’ is an absolute dance floor destroyer and the switch up in the second drop is sure to make any true head shell out the gun fingers. ‘U Take L’s’ utilises an Ivy Lab style vocal repetition combined with heavily compressed and distorted kicks to add energy to this very weighty production. These repetitions aren’t isolated to his use of the vocal sample but also in the musical samples. This further adds to the rhythm of the progressive piece that is ‘U Take L’s’. The ‘Smoke & Mirrors’ EP further affirms Sleeper’s place as one of the key figures within the 140 sound system music community, and along with his recent side alias operations, he remains one to watch.