For those dozen folk who were fucking with this site back in the fall of 2016, you may recall one of my early reviews--covering two Livity Sound releases courtesy of Asusu and Simo Cell--which ended up being an early attempt at trying to make sense of what happened in UK dance once producers started to move not just beyond dubstep, but the lamely-named post-dubstep. Although perennial vanguards Hemlock and Hessle have been experiencing renewed vitality by feasting upon the blood of the new breed, one label whose style of production is so omnipresent within contemporary UK dance is dubstep OG Peverelist's Livity Sound. Alongside its farm league label Dnuos Ytivil that has introduced us to such current scene stalwarts Batu, Bruce, and Via Maris, the specter of Livity's 130 BPM pulse is no fucking joke. At least one 'respected' music writer has referred to the current state of UK dance as being 'post-Livity.'
And while the influence of Peverelist's labyrinthine rollers--or as I like to call it, pretzel techno, the aural form of a dubbed-out moebius strip--helped to define one of the more popular tropes found within today's post-step music, the label's legacy for this writer is most significant in its willingness to make a full break from the genre in which its producers both made their name in and came of age to. From experimenting with the swinging house of Asusu's "Sister" to the more straightforward brand 4X4 techno courtesy of Kowton's "Jam 01" and his subsequent work and Pev losing listeners in the hedge maze of his mind, the trio's initial run of twelves left a permanent mark on the shape of UK dance to come. But for me, one track not only stands above the whole first phase of the label but also rendered mute other attempts to nail down the new guard forming in 2013 like Blackdown's Keysound Presents... This Is How We Roll which captured the variegated "sub-zero rollage" as embodied in the bassline-led techno of Beneath.
Asusu's "Velez" was kinda unprecedented when it hit in the summer of 2013, riding a stilted electro-esque beat that introduced silence into the rolling drum sequence on the last half note and injected a new form of organic rhythmic complexity and nuance, establishing a preference for atmosphere that continues to be a staple of the current scene. Producers like Lurka and Ploy continue to seemingly crib from Asusu's drum programming alone, deceptively simple as it is but ebbing and flowing in intensity and complexity, layers of patterns appearing and disappearing like weeds, establishes a distinct feeling of riding in the trunk of a lowrider. There is little melody to speak of but rather upward and downward percussive phrases that makes the mix at once decidedly minimal and deceptively maximal. At the two-minute mark, the producer finally lets his ass drop as a majestic, soaring bass line enters the mix, affixing itself effortlessly to the never-ceasing beat. Where Blackdown's Keysound label was still fixated on the type of toothy and vainglorious--sorry, I mean 'rude'--bass moves that sunk dubstep, Asusu opted for the soufflé over the bread pudding. The song went on to leave its stamp over releases by the likes of Lamont, Paleman, and many other London bass merchants, but less important are those who sought to replicate the formula than those who embraced the freedom it now very clearly represents. Like an anvil wrapped in velvet or a feather-tipped sledge hammer, Velez cleared the path for a new type of thinking that would be reflected in everything from weightless grime to the genre-boggling stylings of Timedance, Mistry, and Wisdom Teeth. Let's roll.