Review Summary: this ain't your nan's junglist dub techno mash.
Hailing from a bustling Canadian metropolis known for wildly expensive real estate and bewilderingly unpleasant summertime humidity, the Toronto-based Gremlinz and Jesta have been chiseling their teeth on the local and international bass music circuits for quite a while now. Wielding sharp penchants for jungle, dubstep and the respective crossroad where these two genres often meet, the steady craftsmanship of these two Canuck bass wizards has been a pleasure to hear. Now, in 2021, with a fresh take hot off the heels of whatever wave of Covid just happened, they've gone and outdone themselves with a wholly unique and splendid two-sided single on the venerable Artikal Music imprint.
Standing chest-out as a mind-bending fusion of techno, dubstep and jungle, this 10" plate is brimming with everything the bass music scene needs in 2021. Genre-fusion, gold-standard production values, irresistible movement and a bad attitude come to a head on both sides of this mean slab of wax, and carve it a spot among the best electronic releases of the year. The magic lay, perhaps, in Jesta and Gremlinz' adherence to a well-executed simplicity that favours just a few fresh ingredients to cook up an unforgettably delicious dish. "Left To Rot" sweats like a three day bender in Berlin without losing shred of that charming UK dubstep belligerence, with catawampus and gargantuan almost-four-on-the-four
kicks underscored by sparse claps and toothy, faded synth jabs. Here, the hand drums and steady beat hypnotize and assault in equal measure, all while keeping the raver's mind, and feet, with plenty of work to do. Meanwhile, on the flipside, "PFD"'s harkening of amen breaks stirs up memories of old Bristol despite a tempo that lurches forth with the urgency of a bloated water buffalo. It's here we get a taste of this duo's junglist bread and butter, with bright percussion and a heady concrete-and-steel architecture that twists itself into myriad forms without flinching from its militant dub-techno hammering.
Both tracks, when taken together, boast all the hallmarks of the kind of tunes that ought to remain steadfast weapons in a smart DJ's arsenal, with subtle progressions that keep them captivating while leaving enough room for clean blending. The curious bit is just how seamlessly this pair have managed to stew the finest tenets of proper dubstep, stripped-down techno and good breakbeat. It's not a drastically far cry from the of kind of thing you'd hear on J.Sparrow's hallowed Circadian
LP, but here things are even more genre-defying. Clocking in at a lumbering 110bpm, there's no hurried shuffling here, and unlike Black Lotus/Opium Den (Without You)
(the duo's dangerously good jungle release on Metalheadz circa 2019), there's all but faint whispers of the 170bpm scene that underpins the crux of these producer's bodies of work. Instead, we're treated to something that isn't quite dubstep, techno, or breakbeat, but would absolutely kick d*ck at a venue tailored for any of the above. Gremlinz and Jesta really hit the nail on the subwoofer's head here, and even if you're just a casual enthusiast of bass music, this is a pair of tracks you'll be doubtlessly keeping on steady rotation as you bustle around town and smoke dabs at your mate's flat.