Praise for Slackk’s Backwards Light EP on R&S from last year came from far and wide, with the instrumental Grime producer tugging at the ears of audiences from disparate corners of the musical spectrum. What Paul Lynch established as Slackk during that release is a matured Grime sound that can speak to a whole new audience outside of the genre’s bandwidth and it’s something he’s built on for his next release for R&S, Aviary. The ornithological themed EP finds Slackk bringing more of an intelligent design to the ratchety two-step rhythms of Grime with tracks that play as much as they fascinate. The Mumdance / Logos favourite Skeleton Crew stands out for much of the EP with the thin corrosiveness of Grime reinforced with the substantial encounter of serious sound design. It’s not the stripped down bare minimalist constructions of instrumental Grime that we’ve come to know from the artist and the genre, but rather music that can be admired for it’s technical magnificence as much as its idiosyncratic dance floor appeal.
Slackk manages to maintain the DIY production of Grime’s most inherent nature while bringing it forward to a point where marvellous textures swathe the percussive loop-based core of the tracks. Hundred Flute for instance still relies on this innocent and naïve Asiatic tones and melodies, but when the percussion and figure bass join the fray, immodestly swathed in a heap of atmosphere it brings a new dimension to Grime – a dimension where all these elements conspire in a fuller sonic landscape, hardly heard before in the minimalist music. It’s quirky yet when the reverb decays off that kick, it invariably hints at something serious, much like a funny quip in a Bruce Lee movie before the camera zooms in on his face, exposing the look of a man that means business. This is captured in the new layers Slackk brings to his music. Gone are the days of the kick-snare-bass routine, and what we find in Aviary is a concerted effort to create something more evocative and poignant than its functional predecessor, which all comes together on the final track, Returning Geese.
Returning Geese finds a serene quietude through vivid pads and a less enthusiastic rhythm section. Slackk not only adds lush harmonies to his tracks, but also fills out the texture in counterpointing melodies that still manage to uphold the minimalist appeal of Grime, while developing the genre further for a more introspective type of individual. Aviary is Grime, matured without losing sight of its roots, but it can also go either way and can easily fall into a trap, where accessibility becomes the sole focus of the music. So it will be interesting to see where an artist like Slackk takes the genre next, but for the moment Aviary is quite effective in bringing the genre to newer audiences.