Ekula is hardly a new name when it comes to the 140BPM scene. As one half of the Six Sunsets project, over the last few years, he has arguably contributed to some of the best dubstep tunes (“Shatter” or “Fever Skank” come to mind) on some of the sound’s most exciting imprints – Off-Switch Audio, Glassy or Banana Stand Sound, to name but a few. The Six Sunsets path took another interesting turn mid-2018, when both artists announced they would start expanding their own solo projects in the ensuing months.
As it turned out, both artists went in different directions. Whereas Drumterror has been going for skeletal reconstructions of dubstep, using abstract elements to build dancefloor-melters, Ekula has fostered his sound by looking back to the breaks and UK Garage roots of dubstep as a means to finding a new way forward. This sound was first observed late last year on his Heavy Traffic debut, 'Somebody Say,' boasting two original tracks that call to mind Search & Destroy-era breakstep and techno 2-step/dubstep hybrid producers such as TRG and 2562 used to make at the turn of the last decade. 'Keep On' followed a couple of months ago on eatmybeat’s Bonus Snacks vol. 4 compilation.
Until we get to hear more, the all-production guest mix Ekula offered through Marcus Nasty’s Rinse FM show at the end of March is a great way to delve more into his studio. The tracklist starts with the three tracks released until the moniker so far – 'We Original', which was recently released as a free download through Pack London, follows later in the mix –, as well as Six Sunsets’ 'Elegy Dub', before going straight for a string of exclusive dubs showcasing the Ekula sound. At a time when breaks appear to make a resurgence in techno and electro is on the rise, this mix re-claims their spot in the 140BPM sound seeing as dubstep and grime have been focused on trap-infused beats for a while now.
Ekula lines up a collection of dubs making various uses of breakbeats, from straight 140 breaks tracks, such as his murderous edit of Red Dragon’s 'Yu Body Good', to skippy reinventions of classic beat patterns. Besides breaks, reggae samples and dub sirens also help portray a lineage that can be traced back to UK Hardcore and jungle, broadening dubstep to the open music space it can be at its heights. Straight breaks tracks also feature, as well as promising insights into what might be new potential developments for the UK scene. As such, the mix delivers its share of tunes which I hope we’ll see lined-up for release in the next few months – 'Pork Lane' and 'All Night' get my votes. I won’t dwell much more on the mix, just check it out: in 39 minutes, Ekula evidences that stepping back to breaks is one of the ways to find new and future routes in UK electronic music.