Twenty-two-year-old Sam Walton, or just Walton, is the latest rising star to be bagged by Hyperdub, who after a pair of house/UK funky singles have helped him produce an LP that’s as much about melody as it is about beats. Designed to 'stick to a vibe, not a genre', Beyond is an excuse for its young creator to flex his muscles and craft some contemporary but intelligent bass music: think of the smooth, soulful grooves of Jamie Woon but with an array of vintage synths and an eye on the low-end. Hyperdub fit for the coffee table.
For 48 minutes Walton walks a tightrope juggling production, melody, ripped-up house and a cappella R&B. It never feels trite, or a hybrid for the sake of it - the Manc always keeps his eye on the tune, with ‘Can’t You See’ and its sad, soaring grime chords spiced with 8-bit and distorted female locals, a nod to labelmate Cooly G. The most intriguing component isn’t the strange, guttural clicks that sound like the Predator stalking his next targets - it’s how smoothly Walton crushes kicks and snares into a song you could comfortably navel-gaze to. ‘Need to Feel’ performs similar tricks, all dusky digital funk with a warm, shuffling bass line, and ‘Love on the Dancefloor’ sounds like nothing else around: syncopated gluts of static over dub pads, veering into jazz thanks to a scribbled guitar line and sleepy vocals.
Perhaps to remind us he’s still an earthling - and one young enough to qualify for the Tesco Think 25 scheme - Walton sometimes goes straight back to his roots, and doesn’t try to invent anything bar sounds he knows will galvanise the dance floor. Teaser track ‘Frisbee’ is vintage instrumental grime, a looped grime phrase that has an appropriately retro CGI video to match, while ‘Help Me Out’ is jerky acid house; all squelching pads and percussion like a rifle range. Walton’s either snuck into a lot of warehouse parties or got an older brother with a mammoth record collection - he knows how to hit those nostalgia glands, with the echoing bass and lungfuls of dub techno on ‘Grit’ a direct descendant of Leftfield’s ‘Storm 3000’, and ‘Take’s stuttering piano blossoming into prog house.
Beyond is a nuanced, well-rounded debut, indistinguishable in quality from the more established artists on Hyperdub. From the Orbital-esque keyboards of the title track (and its sample that sets out the record’s philosophy: ”A song for yesterday/Today/Tomorrow/And beyond”) through to ‘City of God’ and its goosebump-inducing strings - a tune that could close off a Burial biopic if he died tragically in bullet-time - Walton repeatedly gets right the ideas he tries. Though he may not yet have a signature sound he’s as confident as Hyperdub’s finest, and has made the label’s first artist LP of 2013 a colourful cross-section of bass music.
8George Bass's Score