Article by Mitchell Buchanan
I have a weird fascination with trains. Steam engines, diesel engines, subways – you name it, I love it. This also extends to trains on the road; watching the streetcars (or trolleys, depending on where you’re from) go by in Toronto gives me a feeling that I should probably not be associated with methods of transportation. So when I was asked to review the new Trolley Snatcha EP, Subtext, it goes without saying that I was more than happy to do so. I mean, what could be better than big bass, piercing synth whines, shuffling drums – and of course, trolleys? The answer is, nothing. Nothing could be better than that. “Subtext”, released through Dub Police on February 13, is Trolley Snatcha’s triumphant return to the big-name UK label. A Northampton-born producer, Trolley Snatcha is no stranger to the world of bass. With an arsenal of originals and remixes already under his belt, he’s come back to give us five new tracks for our ears to feast upon – and a bass-fest like this is just too delicious to pass up.
Giving a nod to his powerful hip-hop influences, Trolley Snatcha opens up the EP with “Make My Whole World.” A shuffling 808 hip-hop beat sets the dark, grooving mood for this track, as a minor melody plays through the midrange and the kick drum reverberates deeply into each corner of the low-end. Mimicking the original melody, the synth takes control, becoming more aggressive as the drums cut out and we move towards the drop. The vocals are sustained until the very last moment – and as the track comes crashing back in, the melody takes on yet another new form. Pairing deep, full bass tones with pulsing, modulating high-end synths as strings provide a bouncing backbeat, “Make My Whole World” is a banging, hip-hop inspired fusion of genres – proving that Trolley Snatcha is back in action and better than ever before.
Bringing the energy down for a moment, “Nasty Shit” opens with a calm yet sinister atmosphere, as lasers charge in the foreground above a swinging, muffled rhythm. The drums cut out quickly, however, and are replaced with a playfully sinister synth melody – it fades away into the track as the percussion kicks in once again, steadily building up with a triplet-based rhythm. A voice fades in for just a moment, only to be cut down by the power of the bass and scratching synths assaulting the lower and midranges. “Nasty Shit” mixes up vocal samples, silence, synth chords, and thunderous, hammering bass, incorporating distinct elements of glitch to make this track a swinging, shuddering success.
Moving towards the more melodic end of the spectrum, Trolley Snatcha opens up “Giving Up” with some beautiful synth and piano melodies. A kick drum keeps time, but cuts out sharply as soulful vocals take the lead. As the snare fades in with a sound like machine-gun fire, it’s easy to imagine what might come next – the drums might crash; the bass might slide down to the lowest possible register; the lasers might fire from every possible direction. But none of this happens in “Giving Up.” Instead, Trolley Snatcha keeps things blissfully melodic – aggressive, distorted synths keep the chord progression moving, sometimes modulating, sometimes held steady, but never do they detract from the overall musicality of the track. Plus, there’s a cowbell just after the three-minute mark. I mean, who doesn’t love cowbell.
“Flying Missiles” opens with spacey, ethereal synths that flow gently through the mid-range, establishing a futuristic scene that inspires an overwhelming sense of awe. Mechanical sounds fade in and out in the background as a voice talks to us, discussing the possibility of other life-forms out there, somewhere, watching us, observing and analyzing what we do. It’s easy enough to believe with Trolley Snatcha’s futuristic music surrounding his words – the alarms and whines certainly help make the case. And with the scratchy, shuffling drop, things are taken to a new dimension altogether. Bass cannons, scratching synths, mechanical grinds and panic alarms blend together to create not only a banging track – but an extraterrestrial experience that only Trolley Snatcha could possibly hope to provide.
If you’ve got the vinyl version of this EP, that’s the end for you. But for the lucky ones who have the digital package, there’s one last track on Subtext for your listening pleasure. “The Jungle” switches things up with a versatile electro track that that starts off clean but quickly gets downright dirty. Beginning with a synth-piano mix of chords and a steady, driving rhythm, “The Jungle” quickly ramps up the intensity with a playful melody and rapid-fire snares to pull us rapidly into the drop – but it’s the initial bounce that’ll ignite dancefloors. Instead of dropping on the downbeat, Trolley Snatcha plays with us – the downbeat comes almost silently, the upbeat rises with an energetic pop, and all hell breaks loose on the second beat. Rhythmic synth chords, a bouncing percussion section, and fat bass tones all come together to prove that Trolley Snatcha can’t be limited to one style or sound – he’s exploring and we like it. Oh, and the porn samples are undeniably sexy and evocative.
With Dub Police making this their 61st release, there is no doubt that Trolley Snatcha and Dub Police are both already having an incredible year. Filled with scratching, shuffling, whining, and grinding, Subtext is a welcome return for the Northampton producer. Although we’re a huge fan of vinyl here at Dubstep.NET, we highly recommend grabbing the digital copy as well – “The Jungle” will be a perfect addition to your “Sexy Music” (or “Sex Music,” we won’t judge) collection. Enjoy!
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