Label: West Norwood Cassette Library
Release Date: 04/03/2013
Along with labels such as Well Rounded Records, West Norwood Cassette Library is an outfit differentiating itself from the flood of bassline-led tech-house music of late in the UK. This cloning of fairly formulaic music currently inundating dancefloors is a trend severely lacking in inspiration, and has a staling effect on dance music in general. The appeal of WNCL has often come from the fact that its releases highlight how diverse house music can be, and as a bi-product of their willingness to experiment different textures, present a distinctly more engaging, characterful side to the genre.
Although I can’t say I’ve found Bobby Champs’ output consistently life-changing (previous releases with Pictures Music and Hypercolour), his musics stylistic quirk and originality is commendable. This is certainly apparent from his first donation to WNCL, a four track EP entitled ‘Krenshaw’. Champs eschewing of bass-lines for almost the entirety of the release gives the ‘box-like’ drums he’s known for centre stage, and they are all the more jacking for being unburdened by sub melodies.
Champs’ opening track, similar to WNCL’s ‘Get Lifted’, employs Dirty Harry-esque vocal samples, occasionally riding alongside the aforementioned signature Champs percussion. ‘Krenshaw’ employs a beat similar to his ‘Brooklyn Bomb,’ as the backdrop to the tastefully sparse snippets of vocal sample. Mid way through the track these are bound with silken waves of bright synth, a welcome addition that helps to accentuate Champs’ subtle percussive variations and added textures.
‘Stanton Shuffle’ follows a more regimented fomula to ‘Krenshaw’, making use of wide panned, Basic Channel reminiscent dub-techno stabs. Swung rhythms reach a synth breakdown taking the track into darker territory, or as dark as Champs’ style will allow. It is Champs’ bumping house rhythms that prevent the track from feeling too ominous, as well the repeated ‘move your body back’ sample that appears towards the latter half of the track.
Third track ‘City Boy’ follows a similar line, dancing a syncopated riff around bouncing rhythms and peripheral squeaks, similar to those found in the title track of Kevin McPhee’s ‘In Circles’, released on WNCL towards the latter half of last year.
The final tracks success comes once again, from Champs’ ability to create infectious rhythm. ‘Bureau’ also makes use breathy atmosphere’s which are interspersed through the tracks various breaks, only to be cut short by Champs’ smacking percussion and oddball sound design.
Needless to say Bob Bhamra aka WNCL’s decision to move the labels release phase to a string of 12” EPs is so far proving to be a good one, the ‘Krenshaw’ EP further cementing the label as one of the most interesting and unique imprints out there at the moment.