Crook doesn’t mess about. All the tracks are under four minutes, their sampled drums and vocals cut up and brutalised largely beyond recognition. This music is inherently mangled, which makes its jagged grooves all the more delicious. Cross Strut starts as a mission statement, a sugary vocal setting the scene before the carpet is pulled out from under us, as the track abruptly gives way to a storming kick and razor snares, a juggled one-two punch vocal deadpanning ‘suck me’ and ‘you suck now’ with tongue firmly in cheek.
DJ Haus’ stable of warped, rugged dance music UTTU has a steady hit rate, but they’ve put out so much material recently that it’s been hard to keep track. What is undeniable is the main man’s ability to pick out new talent, here confirmed with the arrival of the impressive Crook EP from Cassius Select, a producer with only a smattering of releases to his name (including a tight split EP with Tuff Sherm).
While UTTU’s early concern with bassline business has given way to a more house-centric approach, the label has never totally departed from the UK bass spectrum, and Crook casts a fresh glance at bass’ hardcore origins. Cassius Select references UK dance history in style and mood more than sound – pirate radio and bleary car park raves are welded to this music’s DNA.
These tunes sound like they’re crafted from asorted sonic detritus but they don’t skimp on the muscle, while melody is used sparingly but effectively. CROOK is a dark roller, shattering kicks and canned rhythms loosely adorned by clipped vox and brief flashes of filtered synthwork. On the flip Joy Mile’s insistent bass resonance harks openly back to early dubstep, but its still unashamedly weird, its angular rhythms lit only by an incongruous crystalline bell.
Final cut He Ain’t Worth is even more menacing, its paranoid urban opening referencing Grime’s new wave but its surgical beatwork is all jungle sans breaks. The drums roil under a tornado of chopped vocals, a work of collage which is particularly impressive when one considers the artistic process, arranging these tiny sonic clips into an arrangement that coheres with such explosive energy. The Crook EP takes no prisoners, and it’s all the better for it. This music is rough, inventive, and black as pitch.