Hyroglifics – All Talk EP
Words by Tony Ferguson
Ever had one of those nights? It’s Friday or Saturday, the week was long, brutal and steam needs to be vented. Enter Hyroglifics and preferably some giant speaker stacks coating the outer walls of somewhere dark, hot, and moist. I’m on my very first play of the ‘All Talk’ EP and already I’m getting that vibe, that hedonists weekend kind of vibe – that irresistible feeling that you need to get to the dance early and jump the fuck around until you can’t anymore. I’m sure we’ve all had those nights, lord knows I have (in my youth) and it’s almost refreshing. Just going nuts, dancing with everything you have and the music is totally there to back you up and push you through to the next morning. For this kind of night we need a good balance of energy, aggression and bass weight which so far I can safely say Hyroglifics is delivering quite handily. Now before you jump in headfirst be warned: this is not just any six track DnB EP. Not even close, this is a journey through sub bass BPMs of all kinds; you’re getting treated to some education right here and you had better be ready to learn. With collaborations from the likes of DRS and Foreign Beggars, Hyroglifics planned ahead and perhaps even saw the future. Together, these guys poured some life into the grime mould and what came out is too hot to handle. Without too many spoilers I can safely say I haven’t enjoyed an EP this fully in a long while so please, I implore you, crank this shit right up, put on a hoody and get ready to sweat bullets.
‘All Talk’. Here we go, title track, the rest of an EP often rides off the coat tails of its opener and oh my, what an opener this is. Go big or go home, I feel like this was the motto over the studio door when Hyroglifics was writing this tune. Pure filth on a plate right here, I get chills trying to imagine how this track feels coursing through a Funktion One dance stack. There’s so much low end force throughout my desk is shaking right now, rupturing from underneath those percussive elements that sound mechanical and liquid at the same time. What the fuck are you doing to my speakers Hyroglifics? This is pure awesome for sure. So I need to splash water on my face and calm down a little, I know. Tunes like this though – minor keys, sickening sub levels, spacious percussion and crying out for a live MC to wreck the dance – they just get me excited. It’s like there’s a tangible atmosphere, you can literally touch it but don’t cause it’s frowned upon. I love that bass sound, like imagine those classic horror movies that run sounds in reverse to get the maximum creep factor, it kind of sounds like that which works perfectly paired with those clicky effects. I got so wrapped up in the low end when first drafting this review I almost neglected to mention that synth, oh man listen to that delay, popping the sound all over the stereo spectrum and adding so much to the already full, dark and murky vibe created by the bass.
Next up, you have to imagine a late night, city lights bouncing off the carbon fibre bonnet of a Skyline GTR, 15″ subs packed out the boot, me driving, Hyroglifics in the passenger seat and the maniacs that are Foreign Beggars in the back. That’s what I see, or what they let me see, when I put on ‘Persuade’. I probably shouldn’t skank at my desk right? Fuck it I work from home you can’t stop me! Pure grime fever going on right now, such a thick UK vibe, you can almost see the club, rammed to capacity, heads down, hands up, the underground is alive and this is its heart, beating strong. It’s like the good old MPC (think of it as a drum machine but with samples and effects) days taking over again. A simple loop, huge kick drum with a long release, throw in some crisp hats and thought provoking lyrics, now you have a club stomper ready to do serious damage each and every time. I’ll admit the lyrics (although relevant) aren’t something I pay close attention to, but that’s just me. The atmosphere and sound that these lyrics create and develop throughout the track keep me coming back for more though, and that’s more than enough for me to have this on a permanent playlist. ‘Persuade’ is pure sickness and I honestly cannot find fault, I’m looking for it too. There’s just serious balance, power in the percussion, presence in the bass and force in the vocals with all the sweeteners in the tops that I could ask for, you fucking nailed it Hyroglifics.
‘Vision’ ft. DRS takes that dark and brooding grime vibe and dials the energy up a level while rolling in some tight sampled breaks – it takes things to the next level but it’s really not going too far. The underground vibe is still strong coming from ‘Persuade’ and I really feel like Vision grabs the torch and carries on running, testing the system to its limit as it does so. I fucking love that LFO bass, pushing and pulling as it modulates over the breaks, all while we get dark delays bouncing across the stereo field. While those delays are working hard to spread the track out wide the MC takes centre stage in the mix and for once the levels and EQ are totally on point. I usually hate hearing an MC track just thrown over the top of some beats but not here, Hyroglifics has baked DRS into the track and it sounds fucking awesome. There’s a real urgency here, a combination of forward pushing breaks and the insane movement on that bass really gets things driving. But as we rush forwards with this pace the MC front and centre reigns us in, like it’s him controlling the real pace and not the beats. It’s a complementary push and pull not unlike the low end throughout the track that delivers this conflicting level of energy. I love it. Hyroglifics nailing it once again, letting the listener feel the pace through the low end and breaks while hearing the control of the MC, grabs my attention for sure.
The second half of the EP begins with ‘Hanging On You’. This tune feels like that part of the night, you know right before things get crazy, everyone’s buzzed and a little chatty, the dance is heating up (literally) and now we get this rolling out the speakers. It’s a lively DnB roller that’s not lacking in the low end, has some lovely hi-hat movement and a great atmosphere. There’s also a vocal that’s actually pretty good, even for me, most likely because it’s setting a vibe rather than trying to tell a story, which is nice. Having said that, I don’t know quite what it is – I like this tune but it doesn’t jump out at me. Why? I mean the bass is solid but understated, the vocal has really nice processing and doesn’t lyrically piss me off, the percussion is clean and tight even if that snare/rim is a tad hot, I love the atmospherics and the reverbs are beautifully controlled but there’s just something else drawing me in that I can’t put my finger on. Walking away from this tune and coming back makes me feel like I need to take it at face value, it’s a great track and I like it. There’s a lot to like and no one element jumps out (apart from that snare), it’s a passive listener for me I think. Which maybe in an EP like this one, you kind of need at some point to chill things down.
Especially considering what comes next. ‘Delusions’. Oh shit. This right here. Let me just play this tune a few more times. I’ve had nights, entire nights that are just like this tune. Picture it, the room is dark with a low ceiling, a chill is in the air from the smoke machine, people getting murky, bumping off each other to the point where the entire dance floor is practically one person, moving in unison but not going nuts, just like a shuffle, a skank at the same frequency as this rancid sub bass oozing out of ‘Delusions’. Awesome work on the snares, really industrial and amplifying that dank vibe while alternating the sounds, one short release, one long. It’s cool how much tension this adds and that’s before we even think about that synth. Man I love this. What I want from a tune: dark synths, thick sub bass, big percussion all combined to create a murky and late night atmosphere. And that is exactly what ‘Delusions’ delivers (for me) without giving a single fuck about my speakers. Legally I’m not sure I can like this tune any more than I do right now and that makes things difficult in terms of being critical and observing the finer details. Yeah on the face of it we have a stripped back beats and bass situation going on but it’s more than that. It’s a track built for the club, it’s a live stage vibe ripe for an MC to grab people’s ears and get the entire building jumping.
We end with ‘More Or Less’, which is not what I expecting. That intro is a real cock tease. Don’t get me wrong that’s not a negative reaction – I love being surprised by music, it’s why I get up everyday and big respect out to Hyroglifics for surprising me with this one. Much like the vibe I got from ‘Hanging On You’ this tune is great, I really like it, but can’t nail down why precisely why. There’s a bass sound in here that is pretty much an 808 kick drum which I’m not a big fan of but it seems to work really well with this vibe. And you know maybe that’s it, Hyroglifics is taking all these elements, combining them in ways that sound hot, using BPMs and vocals that I would perhaps shy away from usually and not realise how awesome they really are. During the review process I woke up with this tune in my head, only it had some of Dreadmaul’s percussion running through it and oh my did it sound amazing, like next level incredible. I guess I’m saying it needs more, more energy, more percussion to really hold a place on my permanent list like the rest of the tracks on display here. After hearing a sick remix in my head and coming back to ‘More Or Less’ a few more times I have a new appreciation for its original state. Hyroglifics is making me think, making me hear this tune when I’m asleep and I can’t say that about a lot of producers out there. So I may not love this track like I do ‘Delusions’ but it’s making me feel and think, and that’s what music is about after all.
Well now, this was unexpected, surprising almost and thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish, multiple times too. I often get sent an EP, I open it up, I get some slick DnB bangers and enjoy listening to them while writing gibberish. This week I got the ‘All Talk’ EP from Hyroglifics (not directly from Hyroglifics, that would have been too cool for the likes of me), I fire it up and am instantly surprised, shocked even. With six tunes covering DnB and grime I was a little taken aback by the task at hand, this EP was a bit out of my wheelhouse and at the beginning I was concerned about being able to do it justice. But I love it: brand new vibes, new heat, grime riddims, bass weight and all other buzz words you can think of. I go into these things not with a pre-determined opinion (you know me better than that) but with a fair idea of what sounds are going to pour over my monitors, so when tracks like ‘Visions’ and ‘Delusions’ start crushing my drivers I get excited, inspired even.
Much like the awesome Hyroglifics (only not as good) I too am a music maker. But my other passion lies in gaming (yes I’m a gamer and I’m old) and so I read a lot about games, how they are made and their reviews. Much like with gaming you can interact with music on a tactile level, at least if you are making music or DJing that is. But if you a listener, you have a far more passive experience and something I try to do and what I see some of my favourite game journalists do is talk about a connection with the media, be it the visuals translating through your hands (with a controller) or simply “feeling something” when playing/listening to your chosen content. It’s important (to me) for everyone to get “that feeling” when enjoying art of any kind so when I go on and on about “the dance” and “vibes” etc I’m doing my best to offer up something physical, tangible to the passive listeners in hope that they can get something extra out of the experience. I guess what I’ve been trying to convey on top of all this is that this EP is hot shit. It’s something different, new and exciting but there’s a mood in here that reeks of an underground movement we’ve been in love with for years. That’s what makes this EP so good and it’s what makes the UK music scene the best on the planet.
The All Talk EP is out now on Critical Music, and you can bag it both digitally and on vinyl by clicking here.