For years, Sydney’s Hydraulix has been adding his own firecracker flavor to the raffish trap bombast that Australia and New Zealand wildly popularized.
A frequent collaborator on Disciple Records and Quality Good Records with names like QUIX, Eliminate, and Moody Good, it was high time to see the talented producer come into his own.
Today’s “Space Cadet” EP on Wakaan finds Hydraulix as aggressive as ever sonically, but worlds apart from the rattling foghorns and hi-hats of heavy trap bangers. There’s freeform sound design on here that would make G Jones blush, ideas that have Hydraulix breaking his own rules.
It’s weird, and it’s thrilling.
“Skanka” sounds off the joyride with a subdued drum march that belies a chirping alien synth right at home with Peekaboo and Liquid Stranger’s leanest and meanest. It’s clear from the first Predator-style hiss that Hydraulix is soundtracking an atmosphere much weirder than urban Sydney.
“Chopper” with Krischvn is the EP highlight, drawing a few profanities on a test drive in my car. If trap has a cathartic build-up and release, then this one rips its apart and stitches it back together haphazardly. Hi-hats descend in a terrifying, spiraling flutter before whiplashing back with a metallic snap. It’s remarkable that it keeps a cohesive form, and the second drop hammers it home with a thumping house beat.
“Madman” is a hybrid of trap percussion and new-school breakbeats that’s really dynamic. As soon as it picks up to a fever pitch, the intensity backs off shadily and clicking coils trail over the silence before another wild barrage thunders away at its own pace. The rhythm is fiendishly tough to predict, leaving the listener gasping for breath.
Finally, “It’s Going Down” with Leotrix is pure, swampy fury. In a similar way to how Eliminate makes his tracks really stand out, Hydraulix uses several wet, vibrant phrases here and chops them against each other frantically. The ensuing chaos is a punchy finish to “Space Cadet” gusto.
For a name not before associated with freeform bass music, this is one of my favorite Wakaan releases of the year. It’s challenging and drips with sound design confidence of an artist aiming to break new ground.
Hydraulix said of the EP:
“Over the past couple of years I’ve been really trying to progress my own sound and simultaneously try new things – but do them in a way that is both true to myself and the fans that have supported me all along. The Space Cadet EP honors the trap and bass scene that helped grow my career globally but also pays homage to the sounds of drum & bass, dubstep and hip hop that nurtured me as a young music fan growing up in Australia.”