, May 16th, 2013 09:06
It's a slippery business, footwork. First you hear the overload, then you hear what's missing. The pace-making beat is rarely or barely there. The commanding voices don't complete their orders. The bass jabs anchoring the tracks can be as unstable as the antic claps and toms racing around them. You may hear echoes of every kind of rave music, but instead of a crowd getting loose and lost the focus is on the lone dancer riding the hotspot. Everything is built to pull you into that vortex; whether or not you're ready to do battle, you can't slip its grip.
RP Boo's tracks on those Bangs and Works compilations gripped harder than the rest by creating an illusion of stasis, the sense of being suspended in the centre of a maelstrom. The bass had so much room to breathe that, whatever was in orbit around it, you couldn't help but feel the track. And that's where Legacy, his decade-spanning debut, picks up.
The percussive debris and switched-up soul singing spinning around 'Steamidity''s palpitating sub-bass sound distant enough to make the moment feel dilated; it's as if your adrenalin rush made the crowd seem to retreat. You can't help but marvel at the dance energy that remains after Boo's stripped so much away. He's even confident enough to name this technique on 'Invisibu Boogie', a track built almost entirely from one-note bass and vocal tics. The voices' Jack-in-the-box ejaculations, psychedelic slippage ("Style makes me co– invisible-invisible-invisible– I gotta get–") and ecstatic flights reconfigure and disappear in a heavy game of hide-and-seek, a ticklish world of dread.
What Boo does with voices is almost too good to put into words. 'No Return' flips between the silky vowels of a soul singer, stitched together into prolonged life, and oblique braggadocio (“Earth– Motherfucker– See me running the floor–”); the feel is somewhere between Carl Craig and a techstep banger. When he takes off from old Timbaland hits it's something else again. '187 Homicide' loops the signature arpeggios and choirs that open Timberlake's 'Cry Me A River' into the kind of spectral delirium you might associate with RZA or Raime, then kicks off all around it. On 'The Opponent' Boo knocks back a dreamy blend of synth-flute and phonemes from Aaliyah's 'Try Again' with an arcade game taunt, “You can't play!” Rounds of descending bass, drum machine clicks, vocal tail-ends and strings escalate subtly into sensurround bliss; there’s genius in his ability to wring such complexity from a handful of elements.
Whatever tack they take Boo’s tracks are solid, heavyweight constructions that work as well as home listening as they would in a club. Even the most in-your-face tracks – the tense ‘Speakers R-4 (Sounds)’, the Drexciyan driver 'There U'Go Boi' – keep you locked in to the end. ‘Red Hot’ is a masterclass in rhythmic stimulation: when the signature popping riff is steadily overwhelmed by the track's true, faster rhythm, it's as if the beat's outrun itself, pulling you along with it. But time and again it's the voices that grab you. Probably the craziest effects come on 'Sentimental', whose soft, wordless vocals watch over the fitful rhythms like benevolent faces projected onto smoke in a phantasmagoria. It should be chaos but you can't help but get caught up. You’d be a fool to miss out on the other footwork artists Planet Mu’s been promoting, but for sheer, lingering, soulful insanity Boo can't be beat.