Hed Ardennes - LKX001 (Local Knowledge, 2020)
Local Knowledge begin their label's journey with a superb 2 tracker from Australian producer Hed Ardennes, that will have you all loved up on sonic goodness and enriching revitalising rhythms.
As always when commencing onwards with a record label, its key to understand the foundations of what is to come, by beginning proceedings with a firm grip on what sound you wish to harness and emphasise. If you look backwards through established label's discographies, the most satisfying to explore and dwell within are often those who maintained a conscious and clear identity throughout, bringing together a variety of musicians under their roof to further the sounds that became more established as time goes by. Its important to begin the initial narrative in a fairly compelling place, in that with each new release there is always space to grow, to add pages and words to a story that is yet to have an ending, merely becoming more complex and engaging as time passes by. We start to then see how the records flow amongst each other, a willingness to look beyond and capture something new, something invigorating, a series of elements that ties into the sounds of the label and aligns a fresh perspective, a notion that only furthers the cause forward and binds us closer to the overflowing infectiousness. Where do journeys start and end remains fairly clear cut, but more often than not it remains what occurs at the beginning of a label's life style that provides an anchorage of sorts for what is to come on next, a grounding of the label's identity into a release which crafts musical parameters and boundaries which act as reference points for future records to act alongside, a widening of the soundscapes, a populating of the rich undercurrent that defines the label's ever growing personality. The labels that maintain this level of dynamic identity, one where the core values spread themselves out onto every release, will always play a key part in any music lover's arsenal, particularly when the values of the two meet on a personal level, with the progressions of both moving forward on similar journeys. But its what the label looks to do in those initial phases that craft our affections to it - its important to set the tone, and the direction, and for some it comes pretty naturally indeed, with their first or couple of releases letting us know exactly what to expect from them going forward. Its an important time, an throughly exciting moment where the efforts bare fruit in terms of content and music, ensuring that we are in for a delightful treat indeed.
If an approach to kicking things off in the most incredible of ways, then Local Knowledge have really put in a hell of a lot of leg work in order to achieve the best possible start. Local Knowledge began life as a party series, with Roy Mills, Ben Green, DJ MUM and Issa working as the party's guiding lights, with the label based in the Australian city of Melbourne but also operating out of London. The link between the two contexts is very much evident in the music being pushed in the many excellent guest mixes by the group, with an inherent focus on bass music, UK sounds, techno and breaks fuelling the flows that resonate from the Local Knowledge camp. This emerging identity comes across with everything they look to achieve sonically, and the group have become a real draw for people who wish to immerse themselves in that kind of music, which is a great position to be in and is testament to how the heads behind it all have obviously come together over shared passions and ideals for sounds. There are already some excellent releases to check out from Mills and Green, who released a gorgeous record in 2019, entitled 'Jan Luc', under the Ben & Roy name. Its a sultry meander through ethereal subscapes and funked out blissed up future jazz cuts that melt the mind like butter with their groove and feel. Individually, Green released the hauntingly beautiful 'Shel Flí Fé' record earlier this year, which features his trademark ambient excellence, with a focus not just on the swells and drawn out melodies but bringing some highly technical piano playing to the table, making for a wonderfully balanced experience. Mills also released a record earlier this year, 'Hell Beckons For Ye Who Ain't Repenting', a fabulous whirlwind through all manner of the bass laden dance that feels like an extremely accomplished piece of work. With all this shared knowledge and musical application, the times feel very much right for the party series to begin its own label, and we are now graced with the 2-tracker 'LKX001', which lands via Sydney based producer Hed Ardennes. The producer seems an excellent fit for the new label, having released two expertly groovy hybrid cuts, 'Acid Funk' and 'Devender', on the 2019 Smooth Sensation and 2017 Fantastic Effects comps that came out on the Body Promise imprint, which both showcase their dedication to bass driven low slung heaters along with highlighting the dexterity in handling differing tones and feels. On LKX001, Ardennes takes us into two realms of dance music, one side of which is fuelled by the rhythms that bind the pulse, the core of the mix that was fed into all that came before it and then dictates the energies that come after, whilst the other side is one of emotive slumber, a deep set experience that quietly hums along to the vitalities of life itself. Two experiences that sum up the mood of the label, a sound that highlights the directions and leads of things to come, where we can come to expect sonic excellence alongside a hefty diversity in regards to tempo and tone. So, without further delay, lets take a dip.
The A side opens up with 'Dutton Bleeds Out', and the outlay of the track becomes evident right from the off. The beat is suitably up tempo with a 2-step kind of groove, with an exceptional level of sway and swing that is crafted by the spaces that reside within, continually fuelled by the progression as it slides forward in time. A light bass line skips into the arrangement, adding a little additional level of flavour, before the hi hat aligns within proceedings to give the structure its totality, a completely comprehensive beat that crafted its feel so naturally. The arrangement carries on further, before taking a light dip in energy with the kicks falling away, before it all slides right back into feverish territories with the arrival of the succulent bass line. It chimes, it weaves and dips, with its nature starting off on a singular plain in relation to the note and the placement, before switching it up to become more of a fast paced pulse, the tone and texture continually changing to find its place in the cut. The vocal sample comes into view very soon indeed, adding in a further level of excellence into the mix, another dynamic feel that will come to act as a signaller for elements to switch it up and transition into new realms, with the whole structure seemingly responding to the vocals with unfathomable glee. The bass line then takes over the full view for a moment, panning from the centre before taking up the whole screen, moving around varying tonal existences as it weaves in and out of our consciousness, a deeply groovy sequence that never fails to find the sweet spots residing in our minds. The bass line continually sweeps through, channelling a overarching tone but always maintaining a steady pulse. Its a transfixing sequence of events, and we are in raptures over its excellence. Up next comes 'Hunched', and this one begins in similar territories, abit slightly less in regards to total energy. The drums seek a more dynamic path, as the kicks reside somewhere in the further reaches of the cut, with the percussion on top drifting amongst the upper half of the sound, with this foundation of rhythm allowing the swell melodic features to find a home. The track feels like looking down into a deep crevasse, where signalling flickers of light call out amongst a mist of deeply moving sound, as the drums echo in the distance, feeling their way up the walls to shake our very core. The chords are breathless in their delivery but so powerful in their tone, a capacity that spreads across the entirety of the middle section of the tune, with the drums bringing their A game in relation to dynamism and moving through the lines, with little variations in key lines and chord changes having a wonderful effect on the feel of the track moving forward. The chords remain somewhat the beating heart of the sequence, with the drums doing much to maintain intrigue going forward, something which provides the listener with such a complete experience, one that provides a trance inducing side but also creating a percussive feel that develops into the gift that keeps on giving. Its sublimeness at its very finest, a deep moody techno edged piece that will have you dreaming about the endlessness of it all in no time.
For a label to make such a statement on their opening release is quite the achievement indeed, and Local Knowledge have certainly done that on nearly every single conceivable level. In Hed Ardennes, they picked a truly brilliant producer to craft the sounds that make up this two tracker, with the sounds that reverberate from the vinyl ones that capture both the purest of energies and the most thought provoking of gentle soundscapes. The two sounds remain bound by excellent drumming patterns and timely melodic touches, which in both tracks craft a symbiotic relationship with one another that crafts two moods which you can fall in love with very instantaneously. As debuts go, it makes such a statement, one which begins to see the foundations being set for what we are sure is going to a brilliant discography. A real trimuph.
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