After a quietly spellbinding debut for Hotflush back in February of this year, South London's James Shaw (better known to discerning bass-heads as Sigha) is back on the case with a second, hair-raisingly skeletal release for the label. And while his sound—unnervingly focused for someone so new to the game—is about as stringently reduced as it gets, this 12-inch is packed full of mood and dynamism.
"On the Strip" kicks off with morose, greyscale dub chords—chiming like the battered gongs of some long lost tribe—before a thick, oily bassline and punchy kicks drop to gut-punching effect. Scuba-esque plips and plops lend the piece necessary sub-aquatic ambience, and an expertly-crafted drop—extended, deftly, just a little beyond its remit—makes for a perfect mid-way kick up the backside. Skull Disco-era Shackleton is an obvious reference point (witness the sheer otherworldliness of it), as is the kind of glum, rain-swept dub techno so in vogue right now.
Over on the flip, "Remembrance" takes things in a softer, more pastoral direction, coming off like a finely honed distillation of Stars of the Lid, Four Tet and (you guessed it) Scuba. Over the course of its eight-and-a-half minute duration, gentle but subtly urgent organ drones build and vanish as an effervescent 2-step throb guides the listener deep into a microscopic sea-bed world, inhabited by only the daintiest of lifeforms and seemingly cut off from the rest of the ecological continuum.
It's nice to hear a dubstep producer who cites the likes of Pole and Monolake on the one hand, and Sigur Ros and My Bloody Valentine on the other, actually letting those influences come to the fore. That it pays off—the two tracks here are both functional and immensely listenable—only goes to show the talent this man has. The way things are going, Hotflush might just be the label of the year.
Buy Sigha - On The Strip / Remembrance at
Tracklist: Sigha - On The Strip / Remembrance A On The Strip