Clarity is most crucial in Shaw's approach, which is rare for a sound that's usually associated with a speed demon blur. Recent efforts from footwork figures Rashad and Spinn have cleaned up the makeshift feel of the genre's roots, and Shaw adds an alien palette of film samples, funky instrumentation and eerie synths. His relaxed style lets him riff on melodies and build catchy figures between the beats, instead of just presenting an onslaught of stabbing samples.
Jabba's sound can often feel stoned and even sedate, creating a push-and-pull that makes Scales more digestible than your average footwork full-length. "Station North" works from a well of revving synths but never quite lets loose, while "Maven" has all the lazy-day funk of an LA hip-hop production, but layered with dense, hard-panned percussion. "Tomorrow" somehow manages to bring to mind both drill & bass and sample-heavy Detroit house, deftly pulling together two extremes.
That's the other thing about Scales: Jabba does so much more with his percussion than just aping his Chicago brethren. "Gorgon" seems to touch on the shimmering textures of gangster rap and the bone-snap snares of grime, while "Echinacea" employs stuttering hi-hats, trap-style. These disparate styles all stick together on the madcap Scales, a record as zany and lovable as a children's cartoon.