Somnambule - Writing About Music

Grime 2

When the name Grime started to drop, hopes were raised for crunchy textures stretched across vital beats, but the graphic design of Grimes 1 and 2 says something different. If it's possible for the design of a package to be oxymoronic then the Grime series delivers: against a pristine brushed-metal background, an angular typeface forms the title in black with chrome edging that betrays absolutely no sign of corrosion. More importantly, trying to associate the word grime with the spotless sonic surfaces audible throughout these two volumes would require something much stronger than superglue. Real grime gets into your pores, ruins your clothes. Round this music you could wear your very best whites. Best to strike out the word Grime and replace it with Chrome.

Grime 2 follows the format of its predecessor in presenting little clusters of tracks by just three artists. The obvious benefit of this way of doing thinsg – namely that it’s possible to get a better sense of each artist’s style – is balanced by the difficulty of ascertaining exactly what Grime is. It's difficult to be certain whether this is a representative sample of the scene. Ultimately this compilation would be much more convincing if it contained 10 or 12 different artists contributing a single track.

Instead of the Afro-Caribbean influences discernible in Jungle via reggae and its bastard offspring dancehall and ragga, Grime 2 appears to be coming out of the Asian Underground. The rolling sitar, backwards melodic motifs and eastern sounding flutes certainly point in that direction. Track titles like Loefah’s ‘Bombay Squad’ don’t exactly damage this perception either. The rhythms appear to be the result of an unholy congress between Two Step and UKG. From the former comes the grim(e) determination, a sense of inexorable progress no matter the cost married to a methodical mapping of form and an intimation that there’ll be no surprises here. In fact this might just as well be a description of the sort of minimal techno delivered by Plastikman (not the Plasticman of Grime 1, but the bespectacled, Canadian). UKG sprays mutant syncopated genes into the rictal Two Step pool, causing crooked shapes to germinate and rise up out of the water. The result isn’t pretty, but it’s certainly powerful to the point of likely not wanting to get in its way.

Grime 2 feels like a distinct step forward from its predecessor, with just a little more - and therefore just enough – complexity, but it's still like an mdma hit that refuses to kick in. Also it still sounds like a fledgling conception, not quite ready to fly the nest yet. Still, its form is at least partially discernible and this compilation is very much worth a listen.
Colin Buttimer
October 2004
Published by Milkfactory