Available on: Fortified Audio 12″

Skittering drums, chopped vocals and rambunctious rhythms are a pretty common feature of the unfurling landscape of UK dance music at the moment. Variations and developments from the likes of Deadboy, Pariah, Synkro and their ilk surface on an almost daily basis, yet the post-dubstep-future-garage-whatever sound seems to show no signs of falling into the pitfalls of predictability, as happened with the guttural wobbles of other sectors of its genealogy. With such consistently reappearing qualities, what seems to stop the lines blurring between artists is the sheer room for innovation and development in this brazenly hybrid sound – a feature that Manchester producer xxxy utilizes to make his latest EP for Fortified Audio an essential bit of listening.

Preconceived notions of futurism are often attached to this particular brand of synth-laden dance music, but EP opener ‘This Much’ is as warm an introduction as you could hope for, all thick sub-bass and droning, summery chords. ‘Just For Me’ sees xxxy’s skittering drums lollop along with a palpable dubstep swing, its crunchy stabs anchoring a hypnotic, energetic track that seems to revel in its ability to change shape with every listen, perched at the crossroads between house, 2step and dubstep.

A cold dystopian future edges its way into the picture on the shimmering ‘Turn’, the track’s dizzying, ice-cold synths ebbing and flowing in intensity. The intensity of the haywire glitches sits juxtaposed over the track’s firm rhythm and rounded piano chords, creating an initially bewildering effect. ‘Flew’ follows, the familiar sliced-and-rearranged vocals reappearing, sandwiched between club-quaking sub bass and what feels like the digital run-off from the previous track, markedly less intense but just as enticing.

Enticing is a fair summary of Every Step Forward– an EP that draws you in with warmth and moves through moods, atmospheres and intentions with a clear, consistent sound; everything you’d expect from a producer on such consistently brilliant form.

Mike Coleman

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