In an era fixated on the cult of the individual, it is always refreshing to see a collective thrive. No group has represented 21st century British underground music better than Leeds trio Hessle Audio. Comprising of Ben UFO, Pangaea and Pearson Sound, Hessle Audio treads a fine line between bass, dubstep and techno, with each individual bringing something unique to the table. Pearson Sound enjoyed an incredible return to form last summer with XLB, his most potent record to date, and shows little sign of slowing down. Ben UFO was captivating in closing the main stage at Dekmantel, and spoke with refreshing humility about the nerves he experienced before stepping up to perform what was perhaps his biggest show to date. Pangaea completes the triangle, having earned a reputation as a DJ who lets his music do the talking. All 3 individuals enjoy a humility which belies their talent, perfectly happy to shun the limelight if it means a bit more time spent behind the decks or in the studio. It’s a testament to their ability that three unassuming friends have become some of the most sought-after performers in the country solely on the strength of their ability to play and produce excellent records.
The trio can regularly be found tearing up the clubs and warehouses of post-millennium Britain but their record label is just as crucial, if not prolific. Founded in 2007, the label’s releases have come from a stellar roster of artists. The Hessle Audio collective will begin their ten-year anniversary tour in September, but in the meantime here are 5 essential releases that helped make their first decade so special.
Pangaea - Router
A wonderfully simple stab at the stripped back dubstep which defined the era. Sampling The Originals’ ‘Baby I’m for Real’, the track rolls with steady percussion and breaks, while being both melancholic and strangely uplifting.
Comparisons with some of Burial’s output are obvious, but Pangaea deserves all the credit for producing one of the finest records of Hessle’s maiden decade.
Beatrice Dillon & Call Super - HES031
Already slightly outside the remit of their ten-year anniversary, I’ll make an exception for the next record to roll of the production line. Call Super shot to prominence as one of the finest selectors on the circuit, but on his forthcoming EP with Beatrice Dillon he flexes his muscles as a producer too. A microcosm of everything that’s made Hessle Audio so successful, this one will be coming to nightclubs near you when it drops at the end of September.
TRG - Broken Heart (Martyn's DCM Remix)
Easily the most haunting entry on the list, Dutch producer Martyn’s take on ‘Broken Heart’ represents a departure from the sort of enormous sounds found on the likes of Glassbeadgames and 4/4 cuts found on The Air In Between Words. TRG and Martyn pose an interesting clash of styles which produces a timeless record. Hessle Audio’s success in remaining fresh and interesting has been in allowing producers to test new sounds and cross over into other genres, and this is a truly excellent example.
Ramadanman - Don’t Change For Me
Released as part of his self-titled EP, Don’t Change for Me tipped the balance from dubstep into a junglist epic. This selection may well be down to personal taste with ‘Tumble’ and ‘Bleeper’, earning rave reviews having been part of the same release. But the frenetic nature of the hi-hats, the piercing vocals and rolling bassline make it a firm favourite.
Bruce - Not Stochastic
Relatively little was known about Bruce when he dropped this three-pronged assault of an EP in late 2014. It’s an industrial sounding club record, which climbs and climbs with the sort of bleeps and wobbles which make much of Hessle Audio’s output so distinctive. Part banger and part soundscape, it may not be the most accessible of records but it’s certainly one for the heads to get very excited about.
Hessle Audio takeover The Moat at Dimensions Festival tomorrow night, inviting A Made Up Sound and Helena Hauff to join them on Croatia’s Adriatic Coast.
Photo courtesy of Mixmag