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Slacking EP

You could be forgiven for not having heard of Spare as the artist is relatively elusive beyond a hunt on Soundcloud, and this is his first release on Well Rounded Records. His new EP, Slacking, delivers a varied take on the current garage, breakbeat and dubstep tinged sounds pervading dance music. Spare is from Nottinghamshire, but the record label is based in Brighton and has delivered a pretty mixed bag itself, often putting out adventurous and experimental releases that are clearly influenced by house, techno and garage, but that are refreshingly original in a music scene that can at times be formulaic and unimaginative.

This release certainly sticks to this ethos, featuring five tracks with highly distinctive flavours, to the extent that they could all happily be categorised in different sub-genres. The first track, 'Slacking', builds a mood reminiscent of a dubstep track, but a little less defined. It has a muffled, thunderous beat and a creepy synth accompaniment. It doesn't go anywhere too quickly, as the name suggests, but it is an innovative take on the dubstep template which creates something much less definable. 'This Weekend' again holds true to its name. It has a really strong two-step garage beat that breaks down into a heavy four-four section, carrying a garage feel with modern production values. This one is definitely a track to work the dance floors.

'Makin' Em Seen' brings a bit of a surprise - a much more techy track with a hard, complex electro beat. The rhythm is relentless and overlaid with a driving vocal sample, setting it apart from the other tracks on this release. 'Kankle' is another great garage track. With a shuffled feel and a massive bass line, it's well put together and provides yet more dance floor ammunition. 'Spare Room Offense' has a really strong beat, displaying cut up breaks and synth stabs reminiscent of an old school hardcore track, but overall the production lacks the cohesion found elsewhere on this EP, and it definitely isn't my favourite. That said, it continues to experiment with genres and this is always welcome.

Dance music and, to a lesser extent, music in general does well either to create definition or to entirely escape definition through its innovation. This release does the latter and provides a welcome challenge to those wishing to pigeonhole it. Spare should be applauded for not sticking to one genre, giving an innovative mixture of styles while also providing some really fresh, danceable beats. I hope to hear more from this artist in the near future.

WRINDIV005 SPARE 'Slacking' EP (192k clips) 5 trk 12" / digi EP (release date TBC) by Well Rounded Records
by Now Then Manchester