"Over the last two, three years I've started my tracks with a drum pattern. But now I've switched it over and I start with a melody," Roska told Martin Clark last year. I believe him. Since the release of his first album in 2010, the UK funky kingpin's sound has moved away from barebones percussive rattle to something more wrapped up in dubstep and the nebulous world of "bass music." After being lightly criticized for releasing an album full of lengthy DJ tools the first time around, the London producer re-emerges for another Rinse Presents, this one full of three-to-four minute genre-hopping nuggets.
Where previous tracks like "Squark" and "Tomorrow Is Today" felt like skeletal loops—drums, a lead melody, a bassline—that went on for over six minutes, here these are briefer adventures, weighed down with little touches and melodic embellishments, like the trilling string lead on the bouncy opener "You Dun Kno." One gets the feeling that Roska's in love with some new synth toys, from the way they dominate on tracks like "Metric" and "Eleven 45," where typically obnoxious motifs compete for loudness against the drums for a music that's a different kind of aggressive than his early work's hypnotic insistence.
Dubstep's influence, hinted at in his sets and his work on Tectonic, makes itself known on Roska 2 as well: "On Rinse Since Zero Eight" borrows the genre's metallic squawk and "The Oracle" features particularly punishing blasts of sub-bass. Instead of reducing his once sinuous work into blobs of stodgy LFO, the added influence only bolsters their impact. The vocal tracks are a mixed bag as ever, with frequent collaborator Jamie George completely drowning out what sounds like an interesting beat on "Do You Like This" with an egregiously inane performance, but Mz Bratt's impassioned spitting on "Go"—formerly "Jackpot" on a previous Rinse EP—is one of the album's highlights.
In sacrificing the repetitive workouts on Roska 2, Roska has lost a little bit of what made him so distinctive. But in folding in a world of outside ideas he's gained an album that feels stronger. Call it house, call it UK funky, call it dubstep, call it bass music, call it whatever you want; this is fun, meticulously-produced dance music no matter what genre tag you try to affix.
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Tracklist: Roska - Rinse Presents: Roska 2 01. You Dun Kno
02. Memories feat. Ruby Goe
04. Do You Like This feat. Jamie George
05. The Oracle
07. Badman feat. Sweetie Irie
09. Go feat. Mz. Bratt
10. Spanner In The Works feat. Swindle and Funtcase