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White Noise: Kingdom – Dreama EP

Monday, 28 November 2011

Kingdom – Dreama EP

Let You No

Stalker Ha

Hood By Air Theme

With the territory between RnB and Bass becoming ever narrower and more crowded, it’s becoming more and more difficult to pick out the shining stars of the genre. Leave it then to Brooklyn-based Kingdom, who’s been doing this sort of thing since way before it was fashionable, to offer the genre an inventive kick-start, in the form of a grime-infused Bass EP that might just be a hint of big things to come. Having worked closely with the always excellent Night Slugs lot in bringing about the wonkier side of UK dance in the last couple of years, Kingdom’s Dreama is a tight and exciting collection of slick productions, and a welcome return for the producer.

The set of four tracks kicks off with the magnificent Let You No, where a squiggly grime synthline charts an intoxicating course over clean percussive snaps and sighs. It’s a standout club hit, made all the better by the soft RnB sampling that breathes sultry vibes into the second half of the tune. RnB sampling isn’t exactly rare at the moment, but Kingdom’s exquisite vocal chopping shows that in the hands of a skilled producer with genuine affection for the genre it can still sound fresh. Second cut Stalker Ha is the other real dance cut on the EP, and it’s just as great. Kingdom takes a clear stab at vogue-house using the ubiquitous Men At Work ‘ha’ sample, spacing the sound across a taut grimey instrumental with hollow bass throbs, paranoid mechanical grinding and choppy wordless vocals. Despite the darker effects used here, Kingdom never strays too far from his core sound, and keeps everything polished and slick.

The second half of the EP contains a couple of more chilled out cuts, but neither sacrifice any of Kingdom’s distinctive style or charm. Title track Dreama is a spacious tune where a similar squiggly synth meanders above textured percussion and vocal snippets. The track feels pleasantly laid back, but still gives the dedicated listener a fair amount to grapple with. If the first three tracks on the EP were undeniably great, it has to be said that none of them strike me as particularly surprising. That’s where the curious final track Hood By Air Theme comes in. Kingdom’s take on footwork percussion is interesting, with stop-start stretches of beats interrupted by a big bouncing synth, and he really pulls it off. Most surprising of all is the reverb-drenched choral vocals (sampling Madonna’s Like A Prayer) that emerge towards the end of the song, but yet again Kingdom proves his talent for combining very different sounds to fantastic effect when the vocal line runs perfectly over the existing percussive field.

Here Kingdom has yet again proved why he holds such a well-regarded position in the dance world, managing to create a release that is excitingly innovative whilst still remaining engaging. To cap it off, two of these cuts are fantastic dance tracks, while the skilled production on display here raises the others far above standard EP filler. Kingdom’s releases have always been consistently solid and exciting, and I’m paying him the highest compliment by saying that Dreama is business as usual.


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