Why Manchester is the new creative epicentre of neo-soul and hip-hop
In the context of other Fade to Mind releases this year, this is one of the lesser ones. It’s Daniel Pineda’s NA side from his Nguzunguzu main, the latter a Chicago-born, LA-based DJ and production duo with Asma Maroof that inaugurated the Kingdom-run NYC sister label to London’s Night Slugs with 2011’s 'Timesup' EP. Enjoying a strong and steady following on the party circuit they’ve had international festival invites, a mix for Kenzo and production for M.I.A.’s Vicki Leekx, preceding the hugely anticipated debut release with label mate Fatima Al Qadiri and associated Lit City Trax owner J-Cush, as Future Brown.
Those artists are linked by a shared penchant for fibre optics and a dynamic “global club” commerce with its stylistic reference points –from kuduro and dubstep to footwork, trap and well beyond –thriving on a diffuse engagement with, and extraction of, all the aesthetic resources they have to offer. There are clearly strong links to that great grime and dubstep-inspired exchange between the UK and US, where it often feels like the US takes what the UK tries first and makes it that bit bigger and more impressive. Yet, for NA’s short three-track EP, ‘Xtreme Tremble’, the "less is more" motto applies, stripping Pineda’s compositions of the fluid textures and low-end flow pooling its miscellaneous influences into Nguzunguzu’s smooth aesthetic line.
NA offers less seductive nausea and more a brittle urgency as ‘Xtreme Tremble’ storms its one rhythmic quiver, pursued by jarring breakbeats as severe as the title track implies. The nervous amble of a flute is disrupted by a panting breath at measured intervals while being beaten down by the bass sounds of an orchestra, metallic simulated claps and a vocal sample cut so short it descends into the uncanny valley of freaky life simulations before disappearing completely. Again, that track reflects its title, Flute Gasp, quite literally, while that palpitating sense of tension, an incongruity between the logic boards and circuitry of the human made world, versus the human itself, is distorted and disfigured to fit. Those rare organic elements are integrated through clipped voices and the near imperceptible singing of an actual real person is drowned out by a matrix of looping synth delays and an insistent bass rhythm that ricochets against more hyperventilations in B Storm.
Existing in its own airless vacuum of hyperspace, there’s nothing particularly alluring about ‘Xtreme Tremble’. Its strength instead lies in its ability to resist and repel, as a desperately sought after drop never eventuates, only to have the momentum occasionally recede into formlessness before climbing back into its own desperate lack of focus. Frustrating and relentless, ‘X Treme Tremble’, as a perfect, if not entirely enjoyable, representation of modern living in all its awful weirdness, is only clearly perceivable in relation to Pineda’s other work. Where, say, Nguzunguzu’s ‘Warm Pulse’ rolls its nervous eclecticism into a smoothly polished ball, Pineda’s ‘Xtreme Tremble’ strips, dissects and reduces those by now unrecognisable stylistic elements to their crudely exposed core.
Fade to Mind will release 'X Treme Tremble' on the 3rd September 2013.