Slugabed - Ultra Heat Treated EP
Reviewed by Oli Marlow Source: (R:A)
Slugabed's peculiar strain of squashed and rigidly fashioned instrumental hip-hop has infiltrated heads for months now. In fact, his particularly masculine brew of square wave stomping dates back to 2008, so it's a little odd to think that this, the Ultra Heat Treated EP on Planet Mu, will only be his second solo 12-inch.
It nonetheless both underlines his accomplishment to date as well as marking a confident stride into the arena of competition. Right from the off, with the title track squeezing out a jagged-edged bass riff, Slugabed wanders like an overexcited child through a forest of Easter eggs; haphazardly jumping off the beaten path, checking every hiding place. Strong, slow drums frame the breakdown on "Ultra Heat Treated" as Sluga adds wispy synths that lift the ear back into the whirling of the bassline when it reappears. The two other more up-tempo numbers, "Skyfire" and "Pressure," display his talent for thumping drums hard, forcing his punishing love of heavy-as-hell simplistic rhythms right on you whether you like it or not.
The remaining three tracks on the EP aptly display a keen ear for synth colouration and melody—even if they're all primitive computerized RGB in hue. Taking the toy town sounding, pony production value of some of skweee music's shining lights as a starting point, Sluga pours his own compression-happy technique into his song workings, letting the distortion of the drums pull the focus rather than the throwback novelty of some of the resounding 8-bit sounds. "Goulash" is the epitome of this style: Slugabed literally booms out his kick drums and thick, LFO-heavy basslines over synths that have been lifted straight out of Sega's early '90s "end of level boss" music library.
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