Having said that, a few strongholds in the middle are helping to prevent a complete split. Terror Danjah is one such artist, and his Hardrive Records, which was revived earlier this year, has become an exciting place for traditional grime with a contemporary twist. The Planets: The Milkyway Edition is his first album since 2012's Dark Crawler for Hyperdub. It lands after a stream of Hardrive EPs from Danjah and other old-school producers like P Jam, who features here on the dubwise "Earth." There have been newcomers, too, such as Trends, who collaborates on the aggy, Pulse X-riffing "Planet X." There's less of a specific Hardrive sound than a unifying functionality to their tracks that's classically grime. They release instrumental grime for MCs, and The Planets is no exception. These tracks are to be used and abused by anyone with the gall to stand up and spit over them.
Without personalities or diction to contend with, it's easy to enjoy Danjah's skills as a sharp and shapeshifting producer. "Mercury" has a quasi-tribal rattle to it, with a big, squelchy bass. Bursts of frothy piano chords keep the beat light. "Pluto" strikes a similar balance between bright, catchy melodies and heavier percussion, while "Venus" goes for a dreamier sound. Full of trap beats and heavy bass, "Mars" marks a menacing turn for The Planets. It uses piercing string samples, which are even better on "Saturn." They give the tune a sense of terror, as striking as a classic horror theme. "Neptune" is a blue club ballad, while "Button Moon" is pure sci-fi grime. Here's a record that could bring grime traditionalists and innovators together in the dance.