A mesmerising album exploring the possibilities of British urban music.
Lloyd Bradley 2011-09-15
Another offering from the fertile musical imagination of UK garage/dubstep producer Dave Jones, Biasonic Hot Sauce shows exactly why he’s been on top of this world for over a decade.
Although he comes at these songs from an essentially dubstep direction, what goes over that notional foundation is so varied and unexpected that it quickly shatters such stylistic confines. There’s a musical intelligence at work that shifts tunes into jazz, Latin, street funk, disco, house and raga; yet everything remains true to a necessarily skittery rhythmic integrity.
Shrewd use of guest artists and mixers reinforces this balance, as it allows emphasis to shift beyond the hyperactive foundations. Dubstep’s close relative, dancehall reggae, is clearly close to Zed Bias’s heart, hence toasters Dynamite MC, Specialist Moss and Serocee give the jarring, cut-up riddims a taut ragga spin on Do It, Koolnahman and Yagga respectively, while Rosco Trim’s sliced-and-diced vocals ease proceedings over into funky house. Away from that, and the album starts to get playful: Toddla T gives Koolade such a slick, relentlessly rubberised funk makeover you expect to bump into the P-Funk All-Stars; Jenna G revisiting Soul II Soul’s smash Fairplay somehow manages to impart even greater swing; and FaltyDL’s take on Lucid Dreams turns 2-Step into languid jazz/funk.
Elsewhere, Night Lovers, featuring Sam Frank on woozy vocoder vocals, slows down the groove some more, but it is clearly part of the same set; while on the neo-classic Badness, Skream takes this slower vibe into some very dark, menacing corners. Even on the two tracks with no guests – Salsa Funk and Sinner – Zed Bias reinvents dubstep first as a disco experience, then as a quasi-orchestral epic.
Biasonic Hot Sauce is a mesmerising album, not simply because of how it explores the possibilities of modern British urban music, displaying it as varied and three-dimensional, while being as intellectual as it is instinctive, but also for how it uses the music’s foundations. Dubstep, broken beat and UK garage (and so on) appear as indistinct entities, coming in and out of focus, creating flexible platforms that can provide whatever support is needed to show off this music to the greatest effect.