Speaking with Oscar Henson (Facta) last fall, better known as the producer Facta and label founder of Wisdom Teeth, I couldn't help but get the distinct focus that here was an accomplished producer and label head who was starting to discover his voice. As we've seen so far, his debut single "Monpelier" was a unique slice of UKG- and dub techno-inflected house (for lack of a better term). Released in 2013, the following year saw him and his mate K-Lone forming the Wisdom Teeth label and releasing three split twelves over the course of the next two years, featuring many of the new voices that have since become scene lynchpins, such as Etch, Wen, Hodge, and Acre, alongside the label heads. With each split release featuring a surfeit of genres and styles, it's interesting to note that many of the artists on Wisdom Teeth released records on Parris' Soundman Chronicles label and Martin Clark's nuum factory Keysound Recordings. For me, this symbolizes the transitional nature of the years 2014 and 2015 as a new school of producers started to gain confidence and less attached to the idea of only creating music in one genre or style, favoring experimentation and the honing of one's creative voice.
Commenting on the label's first two years, Henson notes that "the first few records were an attempt to put out as much of this crazy, new music that was coming out. There's a real energy to them for that reason, but they're also quite scattershot." And then, like many of the other artists and labels we've looked at so far, 2016 marked something of a break, Henson noting that there arose a mindset of "staunchly wanting to do your own thing" rather than simply emulate genres or chase trends. And both in his music and the label's output, Henson has perhaps grown more confident or more cognizant of what he wants to say as the label took a sharp left turn in 2016, releasing a three-track affair that featured three of the producers we've already discussed, including Alex Coulton, Simo Cell, and Chevel. Spanning electro, grime-inflected house, and propulsive ambient, its stylistic variance was a harbinger of what was to come in 2017 with Wisdom Teeth releasing three very distinct and extremely accomplished EPs. Commenting on how the label has evolved, Henson notes, "I think there's more of our voice in the last few records, mainly because we've had the confidence to put out records that other people might not have."
Quick to note that he doesn't see one as an improvement over the other, he kept coming back to the importance of the label finding its voice, which has looked to more experimental ideas like fourth world and percussive ambient while still creating music that is undoubtedly inspired by the "freak, hybrid, unpinnable" nature of dubstep. Echoing Callum Laksa's comments about seeking to achieve the shock of the drop that unfortunately came to define the genre, Henson believes the "big influence [dubstep's] imparted on this new generation of producers and label" is a "need to create something new." But the new is not without precedent and it never just comes into being fully formed, constantly informed by what came before it. Henson continues, capturing the central dynamic at work by saying, "So in one sense we're pulled backwards by a nostalgia for what many of us see to be one of the last true interesting developments in UK dance music, and in another sense we're pushed forward and away from those roots, for pretty much that exact same reason"This sense of ambivalence towards not taking on a united front or palpable scene like the dubstep dons of '05 is often palpable in much of the music currently coming out of London, Bristol, and everywhere else as producers seem overwhelmingly preoccupied with synthesis. So much so that when I first heard the chugging big room synths that kick off the October's "Tiesto Dub" of Facta's "Sweet Sixteen" off of his Something's Gonna Happen, I was totally thrown off balance as the tongue-in-cheek big room tropes so readily trotted out were so traditional, I momentarily feared I had bought the wrong record.
On the A side, we're met by an unmade bet of sine waves, imperfectly looped in a way that calls to mind the better moments of the wonky fiasco on 09-11. It’s when the best comes in that we realize what a mutant technoid stepper we have as the track takes a similar page from the book of "Void," "Iron Lungs," and plenty others by only having the kick hit on the one and three. Compressed and tightly wound, the kicks are supplemented by an echoing, shivering shaker as Facta settles into his odd groove, microrhythms, and hints of breaks fluttering over the otherwise monumentally stoic beat. And "stoic" is truly the right word as little changes in the way of the principle harmonic bed--a rhythmic-melodic ping floating above at times--by the time the track hits its 'breakdown.' One trend I've been quite fascinated by is the heavy use of silence and negative space in a lot of the productions we've looked at, and "Something's Gotta Happen" ends up being something of a tongue-in-cheek name as after a ten-second silence, the beat resumes and escorted to its terminus point. Monster tune.