Batu – Numen / Cazz – Hotline007

Over the last couple of weeks, various pieces of street furniture, phone boxes and disused civic buildings in Bristol have been ablaze with orange fly-posters. The hotline has been rattling out a frustratingly short teaser message, one that revealed only a few seconds of the track that we are told will drop very, very soon (Tuesday 12th). Scrub that, this evening Batu is the name glaring off walls and junction boxes, one you will be familiar with after a few, very well curated releases, firstly on Cold Recordings, then on the Livity Sound sister label. Most recently though, after a quiet period, he launched his own label, Timedance, with a pair of his own productions. In the break between his Livity release and the excellent ‘Domino Theory’, Batu refined further to a unique fusion of fractured techno structures and panoramic sound design that offer a deeply unsettling experience when encountered at the appropriate volume in a dimly lit club. The first Timedance record has been one of our favourites for quite a while now, truly forward thinking dance music that is filled with the enticing sense of dread that is integral to the hardcore continuum. As the video now reveals, his Hotline debut continues the uncompromising dancefloor assault that the label is known for while retaining a slightly left of centre approach to floor-focused music, and possibly the most experimental since the almighty ‘Full Clip’ from Lurka back in 2013. ‘Numen’ and ‘Cazz’ first surfaced about a year ago in the selections of Tessela on Radio One and Ben UFO on the Hessle Audio show on Rinse, opening with a wailing war-cry before plunging into a crushing arrangement of distorted kick drums and shuffling hi-hats that almost disguise some very crafty edits and the subtle textural shifts which keep this ruff yet hypnotic track moving along at a rate for its 7-minute duration. Rufige Kru-esque drums and Trace & Nico-indebted atmospheres are twisted into a new take on dancefloor darkness that is comparable to the likes of Rhythmic Theory and Tessela. ‘Cazz’ on the flipside is a slab of serotonin-depleted UK funky, reduced to ashtray grey rhythmic structures you could hear banging out of radios tuned into the likes of Rinse FM in 2008. The sparkling melodies and anthemic vocals of many funky classics are nowhere to been seen on the B-side, however. Batu instead pushes the drums up front and adds his own blend of idiosyncratic percussion to the mix, leaving a bare bones riddim that is as catchy as any vocal track. Infinitely danceable and a track that will get stuck in your head for days. Hotline 007 is a blend of darkside signs and signifiers, offering some reference points for ears to latch onto while pushing the sound forward, not dark for dark’s sake, more a highly accomplished exploration of tried and tested sonics retooled for the now. Batu, like the label, may not have released many tracks, but they all ace.