You know what you’re getting with Ben Sims. Essex’s former pirate radio DJ has spent the better part of two decades at the forefront of the UK’s electronic scene, knocking out funk-sampling, machine-driven techno of the most stomping variety. Slow Motion marks a return to his own Theory imprint for the label’s fortieth release, and Sims’ first since his debut long player Smoke & Mirrors was released on Drumcode last year to more than a little acclaim.
If that album surprised some people in its scope, delving at times into deep and techy house, then Slow Motion is a step back towards the Ben Sims model of percussion- heavy sweeps and samples. None of the originals stray too far; ‘New Blood’ filters synth stabs through a sea of reverb, underpinned by a booming kick that stomps on seemingly forever.
The arp workout that carries ‘Straight From Bolivia’ is menacing in its discord, a motif picked up in the almost inaudible low-end that makes its presence known through the occasional growl. Sims is giving us heavy stuff, but it’s aggression pales against opener ‘New Blood’ – a barrage of distorted kicks and hats wrapped up in a falling-and-rising array of synth stabs. This is techno for bald men in warehouses, very late in the morning.
Remixes of this belter come from similarly-pedigreed techno dons. Robert Hood narrows things up, keeping the big room kicks but dropping much of the high end, and stretches the whole thing out almost to breaking point to give the samples more room to breath.
Rolando’s take is equally light-fingered, focusing instead on a more expansive top and subtler subs.
Skudge, new boys in town and with perhaps the most to prove, fashion ‘Slow Motion’ into a dubby array of hollow kicks offset by a bass that sucks back into itself mid-phrase. Again, they’ve left what melodic elements are present largely unchanged, focusing more on atmospherics than a reimagined mix.
It’s all well executed stuff, and perhaps a chance for Sims to clear his pipes after the introspection of an album twenty years in the making. But the lack of range across the remixes is slightly disappointing; with names this big you’d hope for slightly more than minor rearrangements, especially when given such sparse source material. Anything here would cause havoc on a floor at 4am, but don’t expect it to have legs elsewhere.
Words by Tom Banham