Alex Coulton‘s name first crossed my radar a couple of months ago, when his track ‘Bounce’ appeared in Peverelist’s mix for this very site (SR Mix #114). A lithe, shuffly, drum-heavy house bomb, it segued beautifully into tracks of a similar nature from the Bristolian likes of Pev himself, Kowton, Bass Clef and Asusu. Its tempo and swung momentum immediately suggested that Coulton was part of the current explosion of UK producers currently drawing house, techno and dubstep influences into something that references each without landing too firmly in any camp. However, with melody largely implicit, suggested only by the friction of percussive elements against one another, it felt far more in line with the current Bristol school or the Hessle Audio camp than any number of the Joy Orbison acolytes currently soaking dancefloors in thick, drizzly synth-work.
So it made sense that only a few weeks later Coulton, who hails from Manchester, was announced as the latest signing to the city’s Idle Hands label, which over the past couple of years has established itself as something of an institution for UK-borne takes on subby house music. In the interim period some research had revealed that Coulton was also behind 2010?s ‘Thirteen Step’, a track released alongside Szare’s venomous ‘Snake Cave’ on Manchester’s Horizontal Ground label, as well as a recent EP through new Glasgow label All Caps. Across those releases his sound has already traversed a great deal of ground – the All Caps Representations EP was a set of punchy, relatively straight-up house whose slinky, slightly off-kilter feel nodded to its UK roots, where ‘Thirteen Step’ veered closer to techno, albeit mediated through the swung prism of dubstep and UK funky. In fact, the way that track’s percussion skated gently across a buoyant cushion of sub-bass was rather reminiscent of some of the techno-leaning dubstep coming out of Bristol circa Appleblim’s now-seminal Dubstep Allstars Volume 6. A later track, ‘Baraki’, released again as a B-side alongside Szare’s ‘Mendeleev’ pulled a similar trick, but its stumbling percussive syncopations were cast in monochrome, jutting away at odd angles from the roiling kick drums beneath.
The same sort of rolling sensibility underpins Coulton’s first 12? for Idle Hands. Across both ‘Candy Flip’ and ‘Brooklyn’ his production summons the grimey spirit of those legendary early UK funky 12?s (think Roska, Ill Blu, Lil Silva, Apple) but pares away their harsh, trebly edges in favour of a rather more muffled overall sound. They’re driven forward by the delicate chatter of cymbals and snares higher up in the mix, but both are all about the bass: its sub that owns and defines these tracks, again drawing connections with the deeper, more meditational end of dubstep.
We dropped Alex a line to find out a little bit more about the influences and ideas that inform his music, and in return he very kindly dropped us a killer half-hour mix that showcases his sound (and draws connections backward – Roska’s 2009 anthem ‘Boxed In’ makes a welcome appearance around 8 minutes in).
East Coast Connection – Summer In The Parks
Kowton – Never Liked Dancing (forthcoming Idle Hands)
Alex Coulton – Brooklyn (forthcoming Idle Hands)
Schatrax – Restless Nights (Schatrax)
Roska – Boxed In (Roska Kicks & Snares)
Szare – Pressure (Horizontal Ground)
Alex Coulton – Bounce (???)
Milton Bradley – A Sky Full Of Numbers (Do Not Resist The Beat!)
Alex Coulton – Function (???)
Alex Coulton – Candy Flip (forthcoming Idle Hands)
Marcel Dettmann – Barrier (Ostgut Ton)
Szare – Red Desert (Krill Music)
Alex Coulton – Representations (All Caps)
Alex Coulton – Fade Realization (???)
Logos – Atlanta 96 (forthcoming Keysound Recordings)
ShadowBox – C O (???)