Dance music is best produced and consumed in a kaleidoscopic manner. When history, genre and setting (both physical and mental) are swished together and coagulated into a singular, protean entity is when the form really flourishes. The digital age of music production has made the above painfully obvious and while it has resulted in a relative amount of democratization, the ensuing dilution in quality is also readily apparent. Especially when it comes to reigniting dance music classics. The internet and popular radio shows has opened up young listeners to a myriad of classic sounds and genres, from the relatively recent like dubstep and grime to the early 1990s sounds of ‘ardkore and gabber. Producers have attempted ad nauseam to replicate the sounds of yore and have largely failed in those attempts. The explosion of breakbeat sounds over the past few years has been a welcome percussive blast, but the amount of derivative imitators greatly outnumbers the true-to-form believers.
Irish producer Jack Sheehan aka Shriekin’ (formerly Shriekin’ Specialist) walks the line between pastiche and authenticity with meticulous passion, clearly pointing to grime’s past while refuting its more staid practices. Sheehan’s sound is cleaner and more clairvoyant than what one might expect from an instrumental grime producer, but that’s exactly the quality that sets him apart from his forebears. It’s a bright, exuberant sound that matches the film noir bombast of Ruff Sqwad with the tightly coiled, trance-sampling hip hop production of American production duo the Block Beattaz and the Dipset Trance Party mixtape series. Ironclad snares form the backbone of most productions and are matched against a distinct R&B aesthetic and the ever-distinctive eski sound palette.
For his Astral Plane mix, Shriekin’ turned time on its head and drew a squiggling line from the freshest sounds of 2014 down through contemporary iterations of grime’s classics. Forthcoming Matt Wizard (on Gobstopper), Samename (on Pelican Fly) and a hotly tipped Shriekin’ joint (on Local Action), start the mix off with a wish wash of industiral Jersey and skittering R&B. Before long, recognizable strains of Flukes, XTC, Dizzee Rascal and the somewhat more recent Joy Orbison (Gage’s bootleg is not one to miss) enter the picture and the mix takes on a reverent, cerebral air. It’s the type of mix that makes a listener both wildly nostalgic and ravenously excited for what the future has in store. And while there might be a mass of misguided revivalists, as long as we have artists like Shriekin’ in our mist, we’re in a good place.