Kahn & Neek's Bandulu label stands out as a bit of a beacon in a pretty saturated field of record labels. Cutting heavyweight grime music of Bristolian origin loud onto vinyl, packaging it in hand printed, screen printed sleeves and delivering to the public in limited quantities; it's as personal and as grass roots as it gets. And it might seem like an super over obvious thing to note but it really does fell like they're in it for the right reason. Kahn & Neek play dubplates. They love and respect the culture of vinyl and they love and respect the heritage of the music they make. Simply put they've managed to catch the ear of a hell of a lot of people, ourselves included, over the course of just a handful of records. So, with their debut Room Two session looming large over the tail end of this month we went and curated a little look in the label's discography to better introduce you to a crew of people we're very excited to welcome to Farringdon on the 22nd January.
Kahn & Neek - Percy
Having first appeared on a pretty harmless but unnervingly enjoyable traffic-jammed video called How We Roll To Nando's, Kahn & Neek's explosive 'Percy' set[s] the tone perfectly for the music that their Bandulu label would go on to house. Taunting every last member of their competition with it's "Every Soundboy shut up!" mantra, 'Percy' was the perfect introduction; the duo's bully of a warning shot. Harnessing the power and constant energy of the long celebrated 8 bar grime template with it's constant switch up evolutions - jumping from a bass powered half step sparsity to a double time 2 step - 'Percy' also followed in the footsteps of Spooky's oft re-worked track 'Spartan', which erupts into life after a rousing war cry (lifted from the film 300).
Ultimately 'Percy' showed that Kahn & Neek were more than aware of the tropes of the grime music they were exploring but sooooo much more than that, it blew the windows open for their combined output.
Kahn & Neek - Thief In The Law
Pressed on the B-side on BANDULU002 'Thief In The Law' took Kahn & Neek's production ethic that little bit deeper, seemingly shooting for something similar but a little bit different than the aggy reactionary switches of 'Percy'. Incorporating a scoop more dread and a bag of the callous, unforgiving darkness of booming soundsystem dub [and it's younger cousin, dubstep] at it's twisted string peak which comes around the 3 minute mark, 'Thief In The Law' hints at the pair's greater sonic understanding - foreshadowing perhaps Kahn's enriched work with Gantz and Commodo which Mala released last year on Deep Medi.
Boofy - Since When
The third plate to appear on Bandulu introduced the people who clamoured over themselves to secure a copy of the limited first releases to some of Kahn & Neek's local producer friends. Oatz and Breen submitted a duo of cloying, atmospherics and the long time Punch Drunk affiliate Gemmy returned after a much prolonged silence with 'Roll On Tips And Toes', but the star of the show was Sector 7 Sounds' co-pilot, Boofy. His cut 'Since When' feels positively claustrophobic, like the dread factor has been simplified and then dialed up and layered under trickles of hi hats that drive focus over and through that bass movement.
If you like this, you should listen to Boofy's FABRICLIVE x Bandulu Mix here.
Hi5Ghost - Kung Fu Kick
Whether you first heard 'Kung Fu Kick' vocalled by P Money as 'Karate Kid' on his 2014 Originators mixtape, or you latched onto that instrumental, which was actually Kahn & Neek's Happyslap Remix, there is no denying the power and impact this Hi5Ghost production wields. It's clean. It's perplexingly simple. It punches in the gut and then flips to a melange of wigged out MIDI strings. In short, it's grrrreat.
Kahn & Neek - Got My Ting
After a short period of near silence (don't watch the remixes) Kahn & Neek returned to Bandulu last year with a four track EP that served to lick off the head tops of those people who'd been patiently waiting. 'Got My Ting' stands tall on what is actually a frantically strong EP simply for the ghostly 2-step trickle that dribbles in and out the drum work at random integers. Looking at their Bandulu output, at this time, from this retrospective angle*, it could also mark the point of the pair's full cycle. Returning to their label and delivering another much needed shot of gothic dread to a wider climate that had found itself clamouring for devilled computer melodies with four tracks of super low end, speaker abuse feels a lot like the emphatic pallet cleanser 'Percy' proved to serve back in 2012.
* This is pure conjecture. Something conjured up to tie off an article with a clumsy conclusion that works, in theory, but perhaps not in practise...