Mike Atkinson

Rubix – Style Wars, Volumes 1-4

Posted in LeftLion, singles reviews by Mike A on February 13, 2012

(0riginally published in LeftLion magazine)

Having dabbled with bass music on Take Me Higher and drum & bass on I Can Reach, Rubix have switched up on us again. In conjunction with Chelmsford’s Alpharatz, who supply half the tracks, the four Style Wars EPs take house music as their starting point, blending a range of retro and contemporary influences.

On Volume 1, Night Life sprinkles perky chiptune melodies over French filter disco, seasoned with hints of Eighties boogie. Things get sweeter still with Runaway, in which Charlie Starr’s vocals and James Hancock’s beats evoke two-step garage’s golden years, until a thundering dubstep throb drags things forward to the here and now.

It gets dirtier and nastier on Volume 2, as Charlie gives Peaches a run for her money on the electroclash-evoking Do Me Like A. Next comes Groove Line, whose comparatively restrained sitar/piano intro is swiftly obliterated by a filthy, rasping “donk”. We’d be nudging into Euro hard trance territory, if it wasn’t for the surprise flamenco breakdown.

Early Nineties warehouse rave dominates Volume 3’s Overload, which couples euphoric vocals (“put your hands up to the sky”) with skittering breakbeats and piano house riffs.  The breakbeats become heavier and the keyboards get more twisted on Dirty Kiss, whose growling bass verges on the demonic.

Volume 4 lightens the mood, as Chicago and House Musik pay homage to the original jack tracks. Vocal cut-ups abound, pitted against deep whoomphing bass and a certain measure of Larry Heard-esque dreaminess. An album follows soon, and it’s sure to surprise us again.

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