Tarasek started out sketching grime instrumentals back in 2006, and he's always favoured hip-hop's sampling techniques. He's been involved with the grime scene over the years, playing fabric on a Butterz lineup, for example, and releasing a track with JME, but his affinity for hip-hop has been much less pronounced until now. Under the wider umbrella of Bristol's Black Acre label, home to artists like Blue Daisy and Lurka (whom Tarasek has collaborated with), the Sheffield native's Mobb Deep, Wu-Tang and Madvillain influences have bubbled up on the debut Commodo album, How What Time.
Weed haze and LA sunshine greets you first on "Hej," setting up the record's mixtape vibe. "Pea Souper" brings a touch of soundsystem skank and bass into the mix, but stays rooted in the West Coast. "Itchin" then sets us down in London town, sort of: the quirky riddim features Trim, a former Roll Deep member who's gone down various alternate routes, collaborating with James Blake on R&S and Mark Pritchard as Pitch & Trim. "Set It Straight" is How What Time's other MC-based track, one with a more distinct rap flavour courtesy of Rocks FOE.
Commodo loyalists will probably rate tracks like "Hadi Hadi Ah" and "How Dare You" for their aggy dubstep sound, even if they're closer to hip-hop than anything else—like most of How What Time, for that matter. "Kofte Cloud" could easily be a Cosmic Bridge record, sounding a lot like Om Unit's fidgety halftime stuff. Ditto "Floods" and "HWT," though they're more languorous takes on the sub-genre. As the halftime sound continues to put drum & bass and hip-hop on the same playing field—thanks to the likes of Alix Perez, Ivy Lab, Sam Binga and others—How What Time's dubstep and grime inversion seems like a natural next step for the 140 BPM scene. We shouldn't get caught up with categorisation, though; Commodo certainly isn't.