After brostep saw off dubstep in hail of filtered bass and distortion, we were left with generation of UK artists, producers and DJ’s without a definable voice. Some sought refuge in the confines of the 4/4 beat and adapted their output for Techno and House environments, while others drifted along nostalgic paths and sifted through the remains of jungle, breaks and garage. It all however came to a head, and as all these genres influenced one another categories and sub categories soon became irrelevant. The music that resulted denied any classification and fell under wider scopes with titles like Bass and Future Garage. None of these denominations really stuck around much with only some having any relevance to the music they were trying to categorise. And today this heterogeneous temperament in electronic dance music has resulted in some of the best music and most innovative music to date. Artists like Bok Bok, Girl Unit and Mumdance have all paved the way and a new generation in the likes of Happa, Manni Dee and Deft have followed suite in redefining borders. Always Greener is the latest instalment, by Croydon native Deft, and encapsulates the previous paragraph perfectly. Like the city that bore him, Yip Wong has relinquished his dubstep roots some time ago. Encompassing a wide range of influences and ideas, his music has never settled on a single genre, but rather embraced them all and on the latest EP via WotNot this fortitude persists.
Like his past collaborator Manni Dee, Wong has also shifted between genres and influences to carve out a unique sound on Always Greener. With a song like Emeralds, the effects of these different elements become apparent as they mould themselves into what is distinctively a Deft sound. Hovering around a footwork tempo, it doesn’t quite establish it as such, since most of the parts are at half time. The beat is a variation on a dubstep theme with pads and sub bass moving along at a moderately slow pace. It is only a synth sequence flowing over at a ferocious speed that gives anything away of its original tempo. The rhythmic section of the track makes it impossible to type out this review in any efficient manner as the development escalates and wanes throughout its various phrases.
It is a predicament I face throughout, as the grooves of Always Greener are particularly captivating. The only time it settles on anything regular is during Octavia. Focussing on a garage like rhythmic motif for the beat, I presume the catchy bass hook will be the feature of many a DJ sets in the near future. It features another great element that is concurrent throughout the rest of the EP. The use of Vocal samples. They are always there throughout taking up various percussive and short melodic roles. I especially enjoyed the effect on Perky. A straight up footwork track layered with those distinctive half tempo pads. Various vocal samples breathe in and out in time with the 170 odd beats per minute. The song features another great device that stood out for me on this EP. The way the sub bass pitches up towards the first kick of each phrase, draws out that beat just a little before the anticipation gets too overwhelming. It works well and again calls attention to Deft’s mastery of rhythmic patterns on Always Greener. It is even evident in the break beat of A little Kiss.
That song closes off an EP that is a perfect example of a generation of artists not trying to conform to any Beatport categorisation, and like so many before it, it really throws years worth of record store cataloguing up in the year. The influences are diverse and their manifestations on the tracks are complicated. Judging from this release, it would have been easy for Deft to make a straightforward Garage, Footwork or Dubstep track, but he didn’t and instead he thought to