The release of this EP from feted London producer Pariah on the legendary (and newly invigorated) R&S label is symptomatic of dubstep's seemingly inexorable melding with techno. But then R&S was never merely a techno label, though its most notable successes through the 90s often fell rather snugly into that category.
Launched in the late 80s in Ghent, Belgium, by Renaat Vandepapeliere and Sabine Maes, the label made itself a European hub for titanic techno talent like Juan Atkins, Carl Craig, Kenny Larkin, DJ Hell and Joey Beltram alongside ambient visionaries like Aphex Twin, and latterly drum'n'bass producers like Lemon D and Wax Doctor. It released stone cold classics like Golden Girls' Kinetic alongside seminal prog-housers like Jam & Spoon's Stella and RHC's Fever Called Love, Jaydee's inimitable Plastic Dreams and Human Resource's dark rave anthem Dominator. That it appeared able to turn on a sixpence was what made it special, but its output slowed almost to a halt as the new millennium arrived.
But in the past two years R&S has re-emerged, as vital perhaps as it ever was; and, of course, still submerged in underground sounds. Early adoption of the likes of Delphic showed that the A&R was still sharp as a tack, as has its alliances with Hessle Audio type James Blake and now Pariah, aka Arthur Cayzer.
Cayzer's first excursion for the label, the superb double A side single Detroit Falls/Orpheus, showed as much respect for the likes of J Dilla as it did for Burial, the latter's ghostly skills almost certainly an influence on the spectral Orpheus. It scored him remix work for the likes of Mercury winners The xx, Ellie Goulding and Bombay Bicycle Club. Now the generous Safehouses EP boasts six further exploratory productions, each seemingly acting as a confirmation of the potential shown in his previous release.
The Slump shows an aptitude for thunderous, sub-heavy electro. Prism is a building, staggered groove layered with rave vocals. Railroad is more in the Burial vein, though fuller sounding than the Hyperdub don's tunnel vision production, and with sporadic injections of junglist breakbeats. C-Beams is a half-step dub workout, while the serene Safehouses is pure, crackling ambience. Crossed Out is the money shot, however, all diced vocals, stuttering two-step beats and a colossus of a breakdown. Very encouraging.