The dark, minimal engineers at Cue Line Records have invited ex-Power Ranger baddy, Zygos, over to record an EP shrouded in dangerous gloom: “Sudd”. This has dropped shortly after his “Venery” EP, released on Overdue. Now Zygos appears to have stepped away from stark, sub-focused atmospheres and allowed the vinyl crackle to come alive and permeate his latest EP with rich character. “Sudd” EP is an exploration of a murky, fuzzy style of bass music. The four tracks are strung together at the core by a few key elements: once they start, they don’t stop for anything; a grainy, black and white distortion covers the soundscapes; the tracks build seamlessly, percussive elements creeping in alongside atmospheric foghorns and low arpeggiated melodies. Listening to recent releases, such as his “Erf” EP on Foundation Audio, it seems that with his latest “Sudd” EP, Zygos has decided to experiment with a cloud of noises that fizzle behind the mid/hi sections of his tracks. This deepens the unique character in his sound, as well as creates environments and textures where before there was empty space.
Opening track, “Laicism”, sets the mood with its grainy texture and progressive structure. What sounds like Resident Evil sound effects, unerring hi-hats and distorted, um, everything, chug with desperate purpose through the murky swamp of bass. It’s an industrial sound splattered with the blood of techno. While its not as gripping as its A-side neighbour, it’s a solid step into patient 140 horror. Title track, “Sudd” hammers the sub relentlessly. Infrequently, it goes half-time to let the audience catch up. The intrigue lies in this rumbling bassline, which is followed step-for-step by hi-hats that are side-chained to the kick, phasing in and out. Due to this deadly duo, “Sudd” hits hardest in the formula and style Zygos has explored throughout this release. Surrounding them, something close to a melody quietly glides up and down – a choir trapped in a ghost train rumbling on broken tracks. The fuzzy (yet somehow clear) clattering triplets in the background rhythmically push the song forward between each kick and snare. The sheer unforgiving nature of the bassline-hi-hat combo in the twisted backdrop of atmospheric sounds earn “Sudd” its title track status.
Numa Crew’s DPRTNDRP have remixed “Sudd”, taking it into the realms of a terrifying end-of-rave roller. However, by extracting the deadly, short-lived half-time section from the original, detaching the hi-hats and layering it across the whole track, they do lose some of the essential power. The half-time pulse felt so strong in the original because it contrasted the main, hammering bassline. Without that contrast, it becomes a somewhat repetitive wobbler. Another element that further soaks up some of the song’s brutality is the addition of a Distance-esque melody that cries out, heavily reverberated from some unknown part of the metaphorical city. In a sense though, the B-Side is the place for these changes. The vibe suits a less energy-consuming dance and It’s interesting to see that such a maniacal song can be interpreted in a more emotive way. The more traditional “Tapered” sits beside the DPRTNDRP remix. As soon as the first snare hits, you know it’s serious. While it still incorporates subtle, swooping melodies and rickety bone trains, the drum beat in this one is unmistakably dubstep. Perhaps as an element of progression in the EP, it includes a descending bit-crushed bass that occasionally features in “Laicism”. But here it has grown to twice the size, silencing all else when it dives downwards, pulling you with it. The bassline is sporadic and alive, pushing up and down like a caged creature rattling its bars. It works well with the kick and snare to form that crucial “step”. Many haunting layers hide behind the overbearing drums, their interesting textures perhaps too shy to come any further forward through fear of interfering with the skank.
This consistently stylistic EP has explored forms of itself that are bound to attract appreciators from the minimal, deep and progressive walks of dubstep. While there is certainly skanking to be done on every track, “Laicism” and DPRTNDRP’s remix of “Sudd” reflect the more melodic, atmospheric possibilities of the sound. Ultimately though, I’m glad that object permanence is a thing, because it means that title track, “Sudd”, will always be around.