sat 24/02/2024

CD: Sherwood & Pinch - Man vs Sofa | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Sherwood & Pinch - Man vs Sofa

CD: Sherwood & Pinch - Man vs Sofa

Brit bass heavyweights do themselves proud with second album

Who will win?

British bass music has played a gigantic role in contemporary pop. Twenty years ago it nearly crossed over when the major labels wrongly assumed that, post-Goldie, drum & bass was going to explode commercially. It didn’t and the whole scene disappeared back underground, mutating, breeding, moving forwards.

Drum & bass begat speed garage which begat 2-step/UK garage (giving us Craig David!) which begat grime which begat dubstep, all of which begat monster hits by everyone from Justin Bieber to Jax Jones.

But far ahead of the Top 10-chasers, there have always been stranger, more intriguing bass travellers, those who pursued the low end beyond a Native Instruments plug-in and an ambition to share a limo with Calvin Harris. Adrian Sherwood and his On-U Sound label are game-changing vanguard musical fusion giants, while Bristol’s Rob Ellis, aka Pinch, with his Tectonic label, has long kept his eyes on the possibilities offered by the music born of dubstep.

The pair have worked together before on 2015’s Late Night Endless album but, while that was an enjoyable experiment, Man vs Sofa is a more rounded, varied listening experience. If their debut was the sound of two producers finding their feet together, with the joins sometimes showing, their second outing flows with a more fluid confidence.

Lee “Scratch” Perry pops up on the sweet, bubbling, harmonium-fuelled “Lies”, Dizzee Rascal associate Taz gives the crunchy “Gun Law” a suitably rough and threatening ragga edge, but Man vs Sofa is primarily an instrumental affair, with contributions from Primal Scream’s Martin Duffy and Tackhead guitar don Skip McDonald. “Itchy Face” sounds like The Grid’s 1990 chill-out classic “Floatation” industrially reconfigured, “Retribution” is a stark acid house thing, Ryuichi Sakamoto’s timeless theme to “Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence” is deconstructed and melted into itself, and “Unlearn” gradually becomes the pair’s warped, reggae-fired version of tech-house.

But really, it’s an album that works as a whole, with Sherwood & Pinch's adventurous studio attitude leading the listener, providing tasty ear-candy for those who enjoy such splifferous sonic explorations.

  • Below: listen to Sherwood & Pinch's "Retribution"

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