You can file "Sicko Cell" next to "Getting Me Down" and Pearson Sound's "Deep Inside" refix as 2011's most ubiquitous dubplates. But is "Sicko Cell" genius or gimmick? Its gremlinized vocal sample—the stuff of bad trips—is instantly recognizable. But for something that essentially became an anthem (as anyone who saw a prominent DJ play in spring 2011 would attest to), "Sicko Cell" is bizarrely structured. It's more like a bunch of disassociated hooks colliding at will, from the repeated "too much too much" vocal that suddenly becomes an anchor in the midsection to the distorted chords that feel like they're deliberately rubbing against the grain. The song's appeal lies in its shock and awe, hitting with the jarring (the vocal sample) and then the hypnotic (the other vocal sample). It's like a jittery, unfocused sugar rush. Or some other white powder.
B-side "Knock Knock" is the fuller club jam, focused on propulsion rather than its flipside's cheeky teases of melody. The song's crux is the forceful bass thud characterized by its title, like it's trying to pull the ground up from underneath with every hit. "Knock Knock" has a dreamy synth breakdown, and the moment it slams back into the main section with those pitched-down vocal samples it should be clear exactly which big-name producer is behind this particular slab of anonymous vinyl.
That Joy O(rbison) would want to separate his identity from these tracks (even after "Sicko Cell" blew up) doesn't feel like a publicity stunt, though the mystery certainly didn't hurt the track's universal appeal. Instead, considering the producer's move towards house—"Wade In," "Source Delight," "Ellipsis"—"Sicko Cell" feels like a one-off bout of dubstep-friendly regression in his current progression. I still don't know if it's genius or gimmick, but whatever it is, it works.
Buy Unknown - Sicko Cell at
Tracklist: Unknown - Sicko Cell A Sicko Cell
B Knock Knock