ForwardEver reviews the new album by UK breakbeat / dubstep innovator Maddslinky (a.k.a. Zed Bias). As seen in FACT Mag.
Maddslinky Make A Change (Tru Thoughts)
If variety is the spice of life, then Dave Jones is a spice junkie. His flavourful and diverse productions turn up the heat like a Thai red curry dish – the one with the red pepper warning on the menu. He’s impacted forward-thinking dance music from broken beat through garage and dubstep via his array of aliases and cleanly composed tracks, earning respect from DJs and fans alike while remaining a stealthy figure in the press; a paparazzi pet Jones is not. What he is a talented producer whose tunes swing like jazz dancers doing cartwheels to a soundtrack of punchy basslines and scattered snares swathed in rich Rhodes melodies. Whether he’s igniting garagey breaks as Zed Bias, exploring jazz fusion as Phuturistix, or niceing up bruk bass as Maddslinky, Jones is that cat whose beats always please.
A decade on from his first Sirkus Records single, Jones’ Maddslinky project is still sidestepping convention and showing off his vibrant, soulful spices. His ’03 Laws of Motion debut album Make Your Peace is being reissued by Tru Thoughts simultaneously with his latest full-length, Make A Change. What’s shifted in the seven years between albums? A lot. The doors have been swung wide open to welcome in many new styles and collaborations to the party.
Jones’ first project was firmly locked on the early ‘00’s rubbery broken beat style with tunes that featured trilling trumpets, staccato keys, floating flutes and fusion-fueled rhythms. Jones still managed to stamp the genre with an original touch, revving up compositions to 130 beats or faster and intensifying tracks with dirty bass stabs that paved the way for dubstep’s signature wobble a few years later. Peace was an instrumental affair save vocal contributions from Shereen Ingram and Kayo. But like Obama’s election campaign in ’08, Jones’ latest outing rocks the change theme on all levels.
Make A Change is a vocal-lead affair from the get-go, opening with ‘Lionheart’, a skanking dubstep track featuring Ghost 1 and Heartless Crew’s Mighty Moe who come off like a combination of UK rapper Ty and Damien ‘Jr. Gong’ Marley. The track is proof that Jones has an ear for the street sounds he helped innovate. Corinne Bailey Rae back up vocalist Tawiah handles two sweet numbers, including ‘Further Away,’ a smoky soul burner that swells with lush string pads and a humming bass. And if bass is what you’re after, then another Jones – Ollie ‘Skream’ Jones – is aboard on the wild autumn anthem ‘50 Shades of Peng,’ a forceful techy dubstep number propelled by moody synths and curved bass waves.
On the solo tip, Dave Jones’ instrumental tracks on Change are flawless, lead by uplifting modern garage track ‘Ruled By Your Motions’ and a confident nod to UK Funky, ‘Lost On Tenori Street’. The album builds to a nice climax with Detroit soul man Paul Randolph’s heartfelt ‘Inspiration Meditation’ and his experienced UK counterpart Omar’s resplendent ode ‘Special’. The latter sees Jones returning to the bruk-house format of Make Your Peace but injecting it with enough future programming pressure (not to mention Omar’s spot on gospel-influenced delivery) to carry the tune forward. Jones makes it look easy throughout, rolling out the beats and barely breaking a sweat. By going heavy on the spice, Jones has delivered a document that’s as tasty as it gets.