Various VariousHotflush Recordings presents… Back And 4th
Football-wise, this must not be Paul Rose’s year: his favourite team, Arsenal, lost the Carling Cup final, got kicked out of the Champions League by Barça and they’re way behind in the Premier League. But in the other field the man we know by the name of Scuba is playing in, that of the electronic music underground and dance clubs, the situation is quite different: Hotflush started eight years ago and is now among the elite labels, with a catalogue that is making history –listen to Joy Orbison’s “Hyph Mngo”, with that Omni Trio-style high-pitched diva vocal, the pumping bassline and the neon synths, and you’ll feel your blood pumping through your veins like an electric current– and, judging from this release, with a bright future ahead of it. And since we can’t congratulate Scuba when it comes to the footy, let’s at least give him a big hand for the contents and the title of this compilation, that doesn’t only play with the release date (4th April) but also divides the tracks chronologically: “back” on the second CD, featuring ten label classics, and “forth” on the first, with ten new tracks indicating where we’re headed.
The back catalogue selection can never be exhaustive because they had to dig between more than 30 singles and a good fistful of albums, but it is representative for the evolution the London label has gone through: calmer songs based on meticulous 2step like Mount Kimbie ( “Sketch On Glass” and the James Blake remix of “Maybes”), a misty kind of dub ( Pangaea on “Bear Witness” and Sigha with “Expansions”) and variations on heterodox house (Untold) and techno (Scuba) exercises. In general, Hotflush wanted to highlight a minimal intention –few sounds, bleak colours, a fiery start that almost always ends up muffled– that, little by little, has disappeared while new members were added to the family –first Mount Kimbie, then Joy O and Sepalcure– who stand out for their passion, as if they were oozing love and ecstasy. And that’s what the other part of this “past, present and future of Hotflush” is about, in general: changing the mist for bright halos, changing calmness for more beat pressure.
The ten exclusive tracks on the first CD are about twisting the identity of the label and opening new spaces for the development of the music. Sepalcure’s “Taking You Back” is blindingly bright: the vocals and beats go from classic 2step to a sexually charged post-dubstep, taking the aesthetic of Joy Orbison to a new level, in a beautiful mannerist manoeuvre; the same goes for “We Bilateral”, by George Fitzgerald and “LOADtime”, by Boxcutter, albeit with heavier sub-bass frequencies, closer to jungle. Then there are the usual technoid exercises ( Boddika with “Warehouse”, Sigha on “Fold”), but with the added nuances of old school house (Scuba’s “Feel It”, which could be a Todd Terry track), something that’s becoming a habit among the younger generations of dubstep. Those are the club dynamics where the future of Hotflush is taking place, although we should discard the ways of weird beat-making like those of dBridge ( “Knew You Were The 1” is slo-mo drum’n’bass, like a soundtrack of a thriller, the re-actualistation of Photek’s legacy), Incyde (idem, but changing Photek for Ed Rush: it’s techstep dancing in a minefield) and the schizo house of Roska on “Measureless”. There’s a future for Hotflush and, though it may be risky to say this, it looks better than the present.