Freak006EP - "The Sideshow EP" Chapter One


Almost 30
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Freak Recordings, Dylan and Robyn Chaos' stable for the pure filth of the filth, hits us with "The Sideshow EP - Chapter One", a prelude to the forthcoming "Techincal Freaks LP".

And the emphasis is certainly on quality floorbiz in my opinion, as I have grabbed all the Freak releases to date except for the "Ruff, Rugged and Raw" release which I just wasn't terribly into, although I did notice that it got a good response (and 1992 bought it for it's rough 'ardcore appeal). This 2x12" doesn't let down the fans, either: three tracks bent on dancefloor madness and a fourth that seals the deal with a different flavor.

Overall, the quality of the vinyl is good, thanks to Stu according to the etching on the inside rim of the vinyl. Thick plates are well cut upon, and the mastering is clear and loud, though not the clearest I've ever heard come from the Timeless Group.

A: Mason & Armanni - Ruff Rugged & Raw VIP
-- The intro, familiar to those familiar with the original version, with heavy bongo breaks and old school "come and get me" and moaing vox samples, paired with Armani's "this is what we came for/ruff, rugged and raw" line and a compressed amen. The drop leads up to the hip-hop switch, with a full-on verse from the one like Armanni over hip-hop beats with a muffled vox and backing similar to LL Cool J's "Knock You Out". At the end of the verse, a rerubbed version of the original enters, with a slightly heavier bassline, more extreme amen edits, and added bass and other old school fx samples. During and after the second drop, a distorted reece dirties things up more, as the pounding repetitive riff makes for an easy mix out. Production-wise, I found this a little uneven, much as I did the original - mostly I think it had to do with some of the delay times used and placement of certain sounds. Some of the edits are very unique as well. But besides the nice switch-up and the good verse by Armanni (more useful if, as is often the case in the U.S., there is no MC present all night), not alot is added to the original. Surely, though, this tune has gathered plenty of crowd feedback on dubplate, and as such I'm sure it will go over well in many a dj's set. 7/10.

B: Pendulum - "Toxic Shock"
-- A distorted digeridoo sound starts off with a ping ponged wood block and ticky hi-hats. A twisty filtered reece/lead slithers out before the main signature Pendulum drums come in, yeilding to a sci-fi "...nothing can survive, not even bacteria" male vox (not sure on the source?). A techy neurofunk skip-out ensues, similar to C4C's stuff from a year or two back. Techy twangy leads flow over the rolling skull-snap pattern drums and subtle tech bassline, as a techno off-beat ride alternates in and out. The second drop brings along 4/4 kick build-up with heavily filtered/pitched up and up/lfo'ed fx manically into the "nothing can survive" vox. A techy redux of the part after the first drop occurs, this time with maybe a little more reverb depth and a couple of first bar edits, before the tune looses elements individually until the breathy ending. I know there are some big fans of this techy style of drum and bass that have been waiting for Dylan to give this tune to the masses, and I'm sure we will hear this dropped quite a few times in the next few months. Not the best Pendulum tune ever, but solid in most regards - I could point to the somewhat thin sub and copy/paste arrangement, but both those matters are somewhat of individual taste. I can see this moving a floor - perhaps the real A-side here for most? 8/10.

C: Keaton & Nitrox - "The Batcave"
-- This track stinks of Keaton's distinct grimey and ultra-heavy sound, with a big smacking snare in front a favorite break used by him and Total Science previously, among others. Techy bleeps and a backwards breathy vocal add to the dark, dark atmosphere. The drop keeps the rhythm with the hats, while the ominous arpeggion fades in. The pounding tech-step drums, familiar Keaton/Digital/Trace bongos, distorted and phased loopy harcore noise, dubwise and dangerous Keaton subs, and a distorted razor sharp mid-bass line keep the crowd bouncing with a heavy pounding syncopation that is reminiscent of the Keaton/Hive work "The Plague" and "Snake Bitch (Betrayal)" on his Invisible Man EP on Hardware. Good stuff, it's Keaton so you know to expect solid production on the heavy dance tip, and his pairing with Nitrox seems to be working, as they have more in the pipeline from what I've noticed. 8/10

D: Cartridge - "Light Cycles"
-- Reverbed and delayed inverted synth line greets us at the beginning, as some synth and pad noises reminiscent of older Metalheadz stuff set an unexpectedly light mood and drumless intro. A flickering arpeggio lets us know the drop is here, afterwhich the progression from before (minus the synth line)is joined by a familiar rolling Amen and Sub combination, with a few pitches and cuts thrown in for variation. The main synth line reappears before the second drop, which opens the soundscape up, before a syncopated switch break gears us up to a strange pitched-down "you killed the teacher" vox. Then amens and subs ensue, with a perhaps-too minimal layering of old school "yeah" and mentasm samples alternate with a distorted synth, before the pad comes back in and the track ends. A good debut for Cartridge aka Scart Ridge, a simple but effective tune and probably not the weakest of the bunch. It does provide a nice contrast with the rest of the album, and shows that Dylan/Robyn are very interested in covering all the aspects of drum and bass on his label. 7.5/10.

Overall, I see this EP doing quite well in the shops, and although none of these tunes are really ones that you might catch yourself humming at the grocery, they serve as a solid packaging of dancefloor-based filler. Big ups to Dylan, Mason & Armanni, Pendulum, Keaton & Nitrox, and Cartridge for their fine efforts!!!

Time Dependant

Jungle Hunter
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Nice review Free Agent this EP definetly needed a level head to review it, I would have probably gone all out 10 because I'm loving the Freak label at the mo. I've been waiting a lifetime for 'Toxic Shock' to be released & unfortunatly I missed the promo's last week!! Cartridges soundis definetly going to be a force pretty soon, I'm sure I've seen he's got a few more releases scheduled.
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