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Baker's Dozen

Burnt Ends: Slackk's Favourite Albums
Oli Marlow , October 2nd, 2014 13:46

The Liverpool-via-London grime producer and Boxed co-founder released his debut album, Palm Tree Fire, last month. Now, he talks Oli Marlow through his favourite records, taking in LPs, mixtapes, pirate radio sets and magazine cover-mounts. Slackk photograph courtesy of Mehdi Lacoste

Sitting, drinking with Slackk and talking about the music he loves is actually, fully fascinating. Known in internet circles as the 'grime archivist' - a notion he doesn't wholly shirk the couple of times I clumsily half air quote it with one hand and mention it – Paul Lynch maintained the Grime Tapes blog* for a number of years. An outlet that at first sought to arrange and house landmark pirate radio grime sets that people on forums would message him about, Grime Tapes ended up chronicling a lot of his own obsessions, with both pirate radio and grime music. Proving to be something he perhaps couldn't leave alone, he re-launched it back in 2012 as a tumblr site offering up a number of incredible sets that would otherwise have disappeared into the electronic ether or probably just sat dormant on someone's old PC hard drive, unwittingly poignant targets for some plucky Trojan virus.

"Grime Tapes only really exists because I didn't like the girl I was living with at the time," Lynch tells me somewhere after pint number three in the corner of the One Tun pub, tucked just beyond the Farringdon station footfall. "We weren't getting on so I was like, 'I'm gonna throw myself into something because I can't handle you! I'm gonna record all these tapes and get it all out there'. That's the real reason for Grime Tapes, or how comprehensive it actually became…" he chuckles thoughtfully. "I was breaking up with this bird but still in the flat with her and I was living in London and I had all these tapes and all these people are asking about them so I had to do something with my time!"

A delightfully frank Liverpudlian, Slackk's obsessions have only ever served to bolster his appeal. With the gift of hindsight, after being signed to Numbers and releasing the 'Theme From Slackk' 12" in 2010 - a more funky, focused intonation of his music that rolls and shuffles at a house tempo - it outwardly appeared that he went through a period of quiet contemplation, before aligning with Tom Lea's Local Action label and releasing his Raw Missions EP. Of course there were releases for labels like Unknown To The Unknown and Diskotopia in between and a pretty enveloping dalliance with much quicker, juke-like tempos under the Patrice & Friends moniker, but with the release of his Palm Tree Fire album recently, it's the relationship with Lea, another outspoken grime obsessive, that's come to define his latest output. With the label affording him the headspace, confidence and encouragement to explore the outer reaches of his learned sound palette, Palm Tree Fire feels like it's full of late night experiments, mostly driven by worming melodies that seem to swirl on and on and on and on forever.

Born of a Patron-powered conversation, in a pub, round Dartford way, on a Sunday evening last year, Slackk's debut album actively leaches off of everything he loves - the classical energy of live, improvised grime; the rawness and spontaneity of the production and the abounding ridiculousness of its computerized melodies - and yet it sounds absolutely nothing like the sum of its parts. More casual and even playful in places, the record plays out as much for the headphones as it would do an enraptured crowd at his co-run instrumental grime club night, Boxed.

"It does kind of feel a bit humid," he offers when talking about the album's theme. "In my head there's a really unbearable heat to some of the tracks, not in a 'heat for the dancefloor' kind of way, more in a, 'It's three o'clock in the morning and I can't get to sleep kind of way'".

It's also precisely this type of an open approach to grime-influenced music and the group (Slackk, Mr Mitch, Logos and Oil Gang)'s desire to simply hear their music loud on a powerful club system that's lead Boxed to become the kind of must-attend event it is within certain circles of London's clubbing landscape. Boasting a close knit atmosphere that actively bristles with as many producers and journalists as it does over-excited kids sporting box-fresh Lunarlon Janoskis or the latest Palace drop, after speaking to Lynch (and stumbling doe-eyed onto a night bus clutching the dregs of a poorly stocked Tesco's meal deal display at 10 pm on a Wednesday) it feels exactly like that level playing field style of approachability is quite vital to everything he does.

"I do think it's matured a bit in a way: [the music] I've been making," Lynch ponders outwardly. "Not in a conscious, need to make this more of an adult, grown-up thing but more me taking more time out to focus on it and the stuff I actually enjoy in music and not just thinking about making tunes that get played by these specific DJs. I couldn't give a fuck about any of that any more, I really could not care less. I'm glad that the DJs and my mates and all that play certain tunes by me but at the same time I know that I make stuff that you'd have to be a better DJ than me to try and fit them into a set. And good on you!" he exclaims. "I love the people who do try and do it. But I guess the progression that I've really made is not trying to appease a person who's playing my tunes out or trying to appease a crowd. I think weirdly my music's become better as a result."

Palm Tree Fire is out now on Local Action Records; head to the label's website to get hold of it on release. Click the image below to begin browsing Slackk's favourite albums.

*Audio from Grime Tapes is also archived here