We, here at Diffusion, are suckers for that big synth sound - it is what, after all, got us into electronic music (through James Blake). The glisten, the shimmer, the full warmth in your heart, a tingle down your spine. This sound has been relatively quiet of late, but here are a few producers, from both the UK and the US, who are finding interesting and progressive ways to include it in their music. Dark Sky - Black Rainbows EP In the wake of dubstep, UK music seemed to stem in two directions. One, the hard, dancefloor-centric sounds of "UK Bass", probably best represented best by Ramadanman and his cohort on Hessle Audio. Two, the "post-dubstep" sounds of James Blake, Mount Kimbie and Disclosure, which has slowly disappeared up its own arse thanks to the likes of Blake's album and Bondax.
Bark Sky - Black Rainbows EP
Dark Sky have achieved the perfect synthesis of these two sounds, as, maybe, Joy O did beforehand. The group maintain the tuff, mean sounds of the first branch, while adding, yes, that big synth sound of the second. This is exemplified by 'F Technology', a thunderous dancefloor murderer that features brutal subs, an incessant Bass rhythm and a set of sepic, warbling synths. I can only imagine the destruction caused by this on a system.
'Totem' features drums that could have been lifted from a Ram tune and an earworm synth breakdown that just keeps building and building, with hats, strings and modulations slowly added. 'Totem' is a real demonstrations of Dark Sky's subtle finesse in production - it is beautifully produced and sounds impeccably clean.
'Zoom' sees a return to the UK Bass sound, with a skittering garage swing and an ever-expanding synth sound. One day Diffusion will buy a spaceship and turn it into a club - these are the kinds of beats we'll be playing.
Mess Kid - Slip Slow (Mohegan Son Legboot)
Mohegan Son approaches the big synth from a different angle. In the context of a US sound, he places it on top of jukey, trapy rhythms - all big bass drops that bang and work and short, repetitive vocal samples. The hi-end, however, leans more towards post-dub, it is lush, melodious and a pleasure to listen to. Altogether Mohegan Son has created a magically chilled-out summer's day in song form.