RECOMMENDED: John Osborn – Epoch 4 [TANSTAAFL]
Posted by James Balf on October 21, 2011

The debut release from October’s new label project TANSTAAFL (There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch), a label he’s running in collaboration with John Obsborn, is a slow burner; for me at least. It took a while, nearly a month from when it first hit the inbox, to really get lodged there, under my skin. My curiosity for all things that cross the vibrant Bristol/Berlin techno axis has been in overdrive of late – what with exceptional releases stemming from Punch Drunk, Apple Pips, Immerse, Idle Hands, BRSTL, Levity Sound and Schmorgasboard – that it took a long, raw and slinky mix from Osborn (one that was posted by mnml ssgs) ,which I believe was recorded live at Panorama Bar at Sub:Stance’s first birthday, to really get me on board.

The vibe Osborn catches on the label’s first release is one that’s been bubbling under for some time, a more house and techno influenced palette that’s been egged on by the dubstep scene eating its own tail and the producers it influenced splaying out so radically. Bristol’s long been that city that’s in search of sounds that have the urge and vitality behind them to keep growing and TANSTAAFL seems to fit into that movement by being streamlined in its vision.

On the 12” we get ‘Epoch 4’ and a version, both of which emphatically hit the spot though they don’t vary too much in their outlook. The track itself, which features Appleblim on keys, finds that sector where dub techno and supple house meet perfectly – it’s raw but not without focus, it kicks hard but has an undisputed underground flex to it. The bumping groove sits somewhere between recent material from Idle Hands artists like Szare and Kevin McPhee and something of more a locked, meticulous groove like the work of Redshape or Levon Vincent. It’s full of tight hi-hats while claps accent each phrase or so and before long we’re gently led into a hypnotic synth melody that keeps bubbling around the track, flowing in and out of view while the drums do the work.

We’re not far off October & Appleblim’s ‘NY Fizzz’ on Schmorgasbord with this one, though ‘Epoch 4’ is a little looser and more dubbed out. The version jacks it up and strips it back concentrating even more on the groove; it’s a simple edit that just ups the energy.

Words: James Balf // Out: Now