Compared to his fellow Hessle Audio co-founders Ben UFO and Pearson Sound, Pangaea doesn’t seem to get up to all that much. While Ben holds down the fortnightly Hessle show on Rinse FM and graces venues worldwide with his bag o’ vinyl, and Pearson Sound (née Ramadanman) decimates ever-larger dancefloors with a slew of distinctive productions, the man born Kevin McAuley keeps a relatively low profile. The odd DJ appearance here and there perhaps, and one or two single or EP releases a year.
When you listen to his music, though, all becomes clear. These tracks are the work of a chronic perfectionist. Every release is lovingly sculpted and utterly unique, forging a brave tangent to the current zeitgeist, throwing up untapped possibilities in its wake. Who cares if it needs 6 months in the oven to get there?
‘Inna Daze’/’Won’t Hurt’ on Hessle earlier this year followed the across-the-board drop to 130bpm, a move carried through with this outing for Hemlock. But where many producers took the opportunity to jump ship from most, if not all, of dubstep’s sonic signifiers, these tracks show that McAuley is still firmly wedded to the soundsystem tradition. The menacing, rolling drumwork of ‘Hex’ is strafed with dubbed-out skanks and muted, abstract sonics, overlaid with a fragmented dancehall vocal which – in a typical act of obscurantism – McAuley twists to speak in perverse digital tongues. Guaranteed to weird out the dance.
One the flip, ‘Fatalist’ sounds like nothing else around – the closest cousin to its dense, syncopated percussion is probably Peverelist’s recent ‘Dance Til The Police Come’ (another Hessle gem), but the churning, strangled melody and concrète-esque synth glissandi put it in a class of its own. The track’s brief vocal interlude, by the sounds of it ripped from a London pirate radio session, says it better than I can: ‘Alright? Listen. Listen. Listen.’ (At your peril).