One of the many aspects of dance music that uninformed music writers like to mock is the often inordinate amount of time spent perfecting what to the untrained air is simply a compressed kick drum. Of course, when you take such a soul, place them in front of a proper system, and play them a track by Newworldaquarium and Deadmau5, it should become clear as day what twelve hours of perfecting the sound of a lusciously-sculpted single kick drums can yield versus simply using a kick from a sample pack (likely made by Deadmau5 himself in one meth-fueled evening). NWAQ's tracks are rhythmically spartan, yet his kicks contain multitudes, the sheer repetition of its rhythmic pulse making clear their hand-crafted nature; like a sculpted bust, each hit is full of sonic pockmarks and ridges.
And while the new school of UK producers working in a post-genre world are so frequently grouped under the banner of "techno," their kicks are some of the most elegantly constructed aspects of the music, be it the industrial-tinged thunder blasts of Hodge or the nuanced rhythmic-melodic blasts honed by the likes of Batu and Lurka. As we've already seen with his debut single as Ploy, "Sala One Five," the producer born Sam Smith is a producer who has proven himself, as the title of his 2017 EP for Timedance proclaimed--'intrigued' by the drum. If we're being frank with ourselves here, "Iron Lungs" was arguably part of a brief trend that popped up amongst the nexus of producers at hand built around booming, intricate kicks whose lingering echoes filled in the negative space left by the missing one and three kick hits associated with typical techno. If one was to put it a bit simply, "Iron Lungs" is the halfway point between "Void" and "Beater" as it takes the timapni-esque depth of former while adding a twist on the latter's languid electro bump. Tempo-wise, it's got a bit more pop than "Beater" and its piercing woodblock-like hit sounds like Burial out in the woodshed. This being Ploy, whose "Sala" sounds like zero-gravity techno, we're back in the airlock on "Lungs" and this ship is haunted, an eerie vocal floating beneath the beat. The wind continues to pick up as we cross Ploy's space desert and the softly haunting melody grows more impatient alongside the upswinging metallic percussion. Things hit their requisite recharge pitstop before the whole thing snaps back into place with a gusto that smacks the listener upside their dome. A reassuring drone casts its calming glow over the plain and King Tubby's space ghost mans the FX as Smith pilots the cargo off of the imploding dwarf star, the rhythmic debris left to float in the vacuum.