Melbourne producer Wabz channels UK Garage on new EP
When you think of Australian music, Garage, or UK Garage for that matter, isn’t one that jumps to mind. But you’d be wrong for thinking that geographic parameters would mean there isn’t a scene. One of the main figures in this messily burgeoning scene is Melbourne producer Wabz. Since 2012 Wabz has been releasing music that sticks to the original UK Garage ethos, but at the same time is full of his own ideas for the genre.
On his latest EP Sleep Less, Wabz has added elements of avant-garde experimentalism to create something that feels familiar, whilst feeling totally new and exciting. Avant-Garage if you will. Opening track NightRider is a low tempo slow burning that has more in common with chillwave than 2-Step. It smoulders with intensity and verve. Bells Ring Out is when we start to get an idea of what Wabz is really getting at, and what the crux of the EP is. Methodical, but lackadaisical basslines run amok with wonky breakbeats, while wispy synths eddy and swish around us. There is a recurring vocal sample, that helps break the track up, but ultimately doesn’t really add much. Bells Ring Out mixes into Melrose Park, with an effortless ease that would make many a club DJ smile. It’s more of the same, but a cruel purity oozes from the speakers throughout its duration. The beats are tight and the basslines dense. Melrose Park is the most immediate track on the EP. If it came on at a park, or club, dancing would become more frenzied and looks would be fierce and intimidating.
Shadow and Walk this Way close the EP. Both are harder hitting than the previous tracks, but this doesn’t mean they are any less listenable. Glitchy chimes open Shadow, and the whole song has a lurid lullaby quality to it. It sways and sweeps along until it slowly fades out. Walk this Way opens with an electro-owl bass hoot. At first the stop/start beats feel tedious and lazy as you just want to the bass throbs to continue, but as everything slowly starts to become in-synch you realise it’s another demonstration of Wabz’ production wizardry to create the song that way.
Ultimatley Sleep Less is an amalgam of classic UK Garage and early Hyperdub releases. Everything is a bit stark and murky. There are flourishes to Wabz’ palate that show his influences, but there are more that hint at his future. In the past my main problem with garage is the vocals/MC’s, but the majority of Sleep Less is instrumental, baring a few vocal samples. This make the listen refreshing and more rewarding as you can actually hear Wabz’ deft production touches, rather than them being buried under layers of inane vocal tracks. It can only be a limited amount of time before Wabz unveils his second album on a very suspecting world!