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Kodiak: Spreo Superbus

Elusive London duo Kodiak’s forthcoming debut on Numbers will already be familiar to anyone following Boiler Room or Rinse FM, who have been circulating the track even when the pair went by the name Raw Milk. Details about the duo are scant, although visitors to well-known London record stores may have already been in touch with the producers – nmbrs.net cite rumours that they work “behind the counter of one of London’s most famous record shops.” The track hasn’t experienced much in the way of wear and tear in spite of considerable airtime, still sounding fresh and ready for official release alongside remixes from Actress and Girl Unit.

As the Remote Location/Mike Tucker video suggests, Kodiak’s Spreo Superbus lurches over a mountainous future dub soundscape decorated with glittering synths. A sliding buzz bass perseveres throughout, while an ephemeral chopped vocal part captures only vowels. The synths gradually evaporate somewhere around the central peak, those steps marked by an epic, glitching diminuendo.

London producer Darren Cunningham, aka Actress, proves himself once again with his “Uraeus” remix of Kodiak’s track. His intro takes a punchy, staggered 80s hip-hop beat and assaults it with bursts of swooshing noise. Sparse, yet engaging, this version features the vocal sample more centrally than in the original, with accompaniment ranging from smooth sinewave pads and gentle riffs to sub and buzzsaw bass. Many of the elements constitute a more minimal approach to the hissing, uncanny topography of Actress’ debut album, Hazyville, released on Cunningham’s own Werk Discs in 2008.

Girl Unit continues his flirtation with dubstep, juke, and drag, offering a clap-happy up-tempo alternative to Spreo Superbus. Percussive vocal snatches are liberally sprinkled throughout, and drum fills that could’ve been ripped from ragga are tightly recontextualised. Urgent and abrupt, the track retains the unsettling sliding bass motif and some of the shimmering synths (albeit processed up and down) of the title track in his remix, adding a whole host of sweeps and sniggering bleeps. It may be worth mentioning that Spreo Superbus is the original name for a bird – the Superb Starling – whose song is described as “a shrill, screeching skerrrreeee-cherrrroo-tcherreeeeeet,” an influence that seems to appear readily in the Girl Unit mix.

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