Michael Petzel is a clever kind of producer that works outside the confines of his own alien parameters.
As Shlump, he makes low-rider songs for lunar rovers with West Coast G-funk influence and sneering trap attitude informing many of his samples and synths (i.e. “Ratchet Shit”). Few others have pulled off the style so true to form, but as of late, Shlump pushed his sound off the deep end.
His recent tunes, “Flying Saucer” and “Shaolin Shadowboxing” on Truth’s Deep, Dark, and Dangerous label, flirted with straight-up deep dub, a foreboding new midnight zone of wallowing rhythm and melody. It made his hip-hop samples sound truly warped and fossilized, it let invasion trills echo like air raid sirens.
System Crash EP
Today’s System Crash EP, out on Wakaan, contains fewer deep dub cuts. However, that influence of enveloping space and mood converged with Shlump’s more explosive material for four wonderfully dense tunes.
“System Crash” pitches steadily into the strongest left hook of the EP; pistons whirring at high-speed into a terror plunge of kick drums and bristling force. Shlump still has that knack for call-and-response in his heaviest songs, where one wall of sound will skitter and lisp to an even more intense surge of drums and energy, a trait he shares with collaborator Liquid Stranger.
“Bum Rush Dub” features surprisingly bright melodies over a distant reggae call, providing a great contrast to the punishing ocean depths the nosedives into. There’s a real nod towards old-school U.K. label Deep Medi in the buried dub samples and light occasionally peaking through the murkiness. That sense of peace is perfectly upset by the careful wails and aggressive drum work.
On the other side of the tempo coin, “Mysteries,” is Shlump’s answer to a modern riddim tune. It’s fast, it’s choppy, and it subverts genre expectations with grit teeth. The layered production keeps the tune from losing its edge. Like “System Crash,” there’s enough variety in the rhythm to keep the rolling bass tones fine-honed and punchy.
My favorite track of the four has to go to “Spaceflight,” a molten mash of all the other production styles. The shadowy atmosphere is immediate, the low-end leaves you wheezing for air, and the rhythmic chops are downright relentless. It’s one of Shlump’s meanest productions, up there with “Funk (Beat-Box)” and “Maniac.”
Shlump has earned his alien iconography in the past with equal parts style and substance. On “System Crash” you can hear him pushing the sonic envelope just a bit further. A sample on “Spaceflight” ponders about “the vast reaches of deep space,” new frontiers Shlump punctures here with confident sound design and daring vision.
Featured image via artist Facebook page.