Somnambule - Writing About Music

Roni Size ~ Return To V

Setting aside Gabba’s monolithic punch, the visceral momentum of Jungle remains unequalled. Yet, in the face of seemingly inexorable change, the music has become little more than a becalmed niche market, superseded for a few years by UK Garage and lately by Grime and its siblings. Some breakbeat producers have rolled with the punches, some have faded away, but only a few have persisted and developed their style. Which may explain why it’s been some time since the world last heard from the diminutive Bristolian breakbeat supremo, Roni Size. Size was one of the biggest names on the scene and responsible, along with Goldie for popularising the music without sacrificing any of its core values. 2000’s In the Møde came with guest spots for Method Man and Zack De La Rocha. Return To V sees Size continue and extend this approach with every one of its 18 tracks featuring a different guest vocalist. The cover design depicts Roni Size as high street mannequin, limbs arranged in purposeful forward stride against a Photoshop collage of looming towerblocks. The effect is a little unconvincing and doesn’t bode well. However, the music’s tireless attack is irresistibly cathartic. As the beats race along hyperactively, the bass drops warp and twist with a pleasingly guttural plasticity under occasionally teeth-gratingly synthetic backdrops. The whole thing reeks of steroid-enhanced performance. If there’s a sense of hesitancy to the foregoing, it may be attributed to the lack of a convincing scene around this album. Size appears to be the last of the original vanguard still experimenting directly upon the breakbeat corpus. Seen in that light, Return To V is an impressive anomaly, its creator doggedly and successfuly resisting the atavistic impulse.
Colin Buttimer
June 2005
Published by e/i magazine