SkaFace on Schlachthofbronx

la critiquerie

Disko B were always one of the labels worth a listen for the acid house/techno digger in the 1990s. From the deep, dark chuggers of Robert Gorl to DJ Hell’s more upfront club bangers, this legendary Munich label was one for the warehouse dancefloor as much as for the UV-lit fetish scene. While still signed to Disko B, Schlachthofbronx’s forays into booty-shaking territory led to releases on Diplo’s Mad Decent and collabs with the likes of Warrior Queen, Spoek Mathambo and Riko Dan (the latter forthcoming, late 2016). With a rave sound heavily-infected by tropicalized dancehall flavours, SB’s eclecticism works hard on sweaty dancefloors, rooftop parties, the autobahn and in Ecuador.

SB’s love of sunshine has not led to them abandoning their industrial technoid roots, however. Their free-to-download 2015 album Rave and Romance combines tropical bass with the machined, Teutonic intensity of Disko B. And while it is undoubtedly accessible, it is definitely not all about predictable Diplo drops. There are fun, saccharine and hand-wavy moments, for sure, but underlying those is an intent to destroy eardrums and twist melons.

Lights Off” and “Slo Bang” demonstrate this perfectly, with glitch-looped bubble-gum samples alternately cutting through and being drowned out by nasty waves of monster bass. The bittersweet synth lines of “Up” bring to mind Kraftwerk, but on a dubstepped foundation that brings it straight into the 21st century. “Melt”, featuring Warrior Queen, squeezes the hardcore raggamuffinette’s vocals into a distorted mosquito whine, while the rhythm drops at times into brooding cumbia. Her other track here, “Hot Hot”, floats the Queen’s dutty flow at half speed over an insistent favela-tech kick. Diplo’s spirit is very much alive on the hardcore, strobed-out “Bump and Grind”, stuttering Nicky Da B’s sex chant into an automatic tongue gun. “Lick Down” is a futurist gospel footwork affair, combining nervous bass with relentless trance arpeggios and what sounds like the Munich Cathedral choir. “No Job” drags the unemployed masses back into dub-latino territory, featuring Laura Taylor from the crazy Brazilian pop band Bonde Do Role. Melting down into the mechanoid acid stabs of “Grinder”, the trip to the warehouse is complete – and by this time we are grateful that the Minnie Mouse vocal samples have been replaced by an orgasmic lady, who sounds like she is being bummed by Megatron. Special mention to “More”, which is right up SkaFace’s alley – a menacing industrial dub monster with a soaring neo-soul hook leading to a filthy floor-pummeling bass drop: Jamaica’s Studio One on ecstasy-spiked ketamine.

thump vice
Img source: Thump, Vice

I’ve had a sneak preview of a couple of tracks from SB’s new album, scheduled for late 2016. And I’m quite happy to say that what I have heard is harder, darker and far less tailored for teens (unless they are especially psychotic Goths). With a metallic gangsta anthem from London city warlord Riko Dan and a mystical doom-core pulsator featuring Gonjasufi (Warp Records), they have become more organic, experimental and deeper – but not in the vacant lounge sense of so-called ‘deep house’. The depth here is psychological and visceral. No longer content with sunny sonic holidays and throwing shapes with the kids, SB have now swerved off the main road into the human psyche’s back-alleys and speakeasies. And, as we’ll know, that’s where the best dance music gets made…

With a technician’s ear for production values and a musician’s instinctive understanding of what makes a genre work, SB artfully blend whatever styles show up on their global radar. They don’t pretend to make the most original compositions but SB have a rare talent: to extract the juice of the world’s musical fruits and mix them into a potent industrial cocktail that is part pop, part tropics, part rave and all theirs.

SB – ‘Slaughterhouse Bronx’ – are big fans of East Africa and are on tour here (again) in September, thanks to the generosity of the Goethe Institut and the hospitality of Uganda’s NyegeNyege International Music Festival. Bad Mambo will be hosting them at a secret NRB location on 10th September, with strictly limited tickets available. Bring a sweat band, a friend you trust and a big box of sweeties.


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