Silkie City Limits Volume 2 Review

Released 2011.  

BBC Review

An assured and riveting second set, lushly produced and thick with ambition.

Ben Arnold 2011

Dubstep kingpin Mala signed both Silkie and labelmate Quest to his DEEP MEDi imprint on the same day, both original members of west London crew Antisocial Entertainment. Despite still being in their early 20s, the pair have steadily risen through the ranks of grime, Silkie producing beats as a teenager for his big brother Silva, one of the MCs in the Channel U-hyped crew Unorthodox. It wasn't until they were exposed to the pioneering rhythms of pivotal London dubstep club night FWD>> in the early 2000s that their sights shifted permanently.

Mala seems to be keen to let his artists take their time. Though he was literally bursting with material, Silkie had to wait for two years after being signed before releasing his debut album, 2009's City Limits Volume 1. Another two years later comes the second instalment, and it's polished to a spit-shine. The reason for this is the fact that each track has been extensively road-tested, each honed again and again while their maker’s toured the globe. Tracks like the irrepressible Get Up n Dance might sound the way they do because of a reaction on a dancefloor in Estonia or Japan. The club, he says, is his "second studio", and you can hear it imprinted on every track.

City Limits Volume 2 owes a lot to Silkie’s grounding in garage, the music he was first exposed to on London pirate stations before the dark and brooding grime scene took over. Snowed In, made with assistance from French dubstepper Von D, features snapshots of the past in its futurist rhythms, its jazzy chords and snatches of vocal, much like Rock da Funk, featuring some distant diva resurrected via a twisted-up sample. Then there's the galactic dub of Untitled, a collaboration with scene superstar Skream, which brims with contrasting sub-bass and prog-like synths. Silkie brings the nostalgia, too, injecting hardcore breaks into Selva Nova, winding up with Outlook, all summery pianos coupled with frisky percussion. It's an assured and riveting second set, lushly produced and thick with ambition.

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