By Bobby Tank
Deep into April, with the weather promising a scorching summer, it is high time we start talking about summer anthems. Getting airplay from Zane Lowe, Bobby Tank Afterburn is one contender for this honour.
The preview copy I have has the word "Maximalism" entered in the genre tag. This is the non-genre used to describe the superb Glass Swords released by Rustie in 2011. In fact non-genres seem to be the in thing right now, ever since Oliver Jones (aka Skream) asked the world to use the term UK Bass to describe the multitude of post-dubstep sounds being produced. Personally I didn't see what was wrong with the term post-dubstep, but enough with genre and non-genre shenanigans, I'm here to write a review.
The title track for the EP certainly captures the sound that Rustie made his own last year. We are talking 8 bit bleeps, searing synths that sound like they belong on early electro hip-hop, pitched up chopped up and distorted lyrics and a total assault on your aural senses. In fact the album art gives you an idea of what to expect, garish and bright. But is it a work of art or a great big mess?
To compare directly with Rustie, the track is probably somewhere between Ultra Thizz and Cry Flames and it does compare favourably. Bobby Tank shows a real flair and the production is flawless, in a musical style that demands it to prevent the track from sounding like bloody awful noise. It's fun, fresh and loud and certainly has the right attributes to be a hit this summer.
The second track, Vector Beach is more of the the same, but to be honest it is almost too much of the same. It sounds like more of a rearrangement of Afterburn rather than a totally new track. It isn't bad, but it isn't showcasing much depth to Tank's style.
Thankfully Wolpheus does go in a bit of a different direction, although doesn't quite pull it off. More of a minimalist maximalism track (I hate myself for writing that) than the first two tracks, it is nowhere near as hyperactive, whilst still retaining the trademark vocals and synths. For me though, it just doesn't quite hit the mark and seems to falter and fade out without really making an much of an impression.
Circles, the final track on the EP is probably my favourite. Not likely to be a summer anthem this one, being much moodier than the first three tracks. Like Wolpheus there is much less going on. I like the way this uncovers the bass which nicely drives the track under the still almost incomprehensibly filtered lyrics. You really wouldn't want to be Bobby Tank's vocalists. On this track it sounds something like R-Kelly with his nuts in a vice singing down a drainpipe with the speaker in a washing machine on spin cycle. That doesn't sound good does it? Oh well, it works on the track!
So, summer anthem? Work of art? A great big mess? Well the title track is going to do well, I'm sure of that. It doesn't quite capture my imagination, but I'm certain Afterburn will get plenty of plays and be a big summer tune. I'm really disappointed at how similar the second track sounds to Afterburn and Wolpheus was forgettable, but with the EP closing in such strong fashion, there is certainly enough for me to be keeping an ear out for Tank in the future.
Afterburn is released on MofoHifi Records on May 14th.