Review: Kool Keith + Scorn + Submerged ‘Distortion’ EP

Fuckin’ ell, does Kool Keith ever sleep? Here he is again on this extremely heavyweight collab with Submerged and the legendary Scorn (that’ll be a certain Michael Harris, you might have heard of him), for an EP made up of four mixes of one very strong collaborative track.

Kool Keith + Scorn + Submerged 'Distortion'

The Radio Edit 1 version sees His Koolness wax lyrical in his usual surreal style over a slow motion collision of filthy bass frequencies, and icy horror soundtrack atmospherics. Layers of febrile percussion make you feel like a bunch of fire ants have crawled into your ears, while the snare is like someone smashing an enormous window with Thor’s hammer repeats. Keith sits further back in the mix than you might expect, so if you’re here for his wordsmithery, you need to prick up your ears to keep up.

Scorn’s mix isn’t enormously different from this first version, but just feels like more of everything, frequencies amplified and effected in subtle but powerful ways. Most noticeably the bass pressure is pushed to almost unbearable levels, where you can feel your chest (and bowels at certain points) rattle. It feels icier overall than the initial version. Harris being the master of his trade as always has transplanted you to the dead of the night, his version feeling like the musical representation of the darkness at the edge of the urban sprawl.

Radio Edit 2 comes next, and that bass, while still at the forefront, seems cleaner and more like a laser aimed straight at the sinuses. The dub elements are more pronounced, as Keith’s flow is augmented by shards of echoed voice, and whirring drones spin all around sonic ninja stars in bullet time. The hi-hat chatters like a Cenobite’s teeth.

Layers of febrile percussion make you feel like a bunch of fire ants have crawled into your ears…

Finally Submerged offers his own mix, the most different of the four versions and the one that seems most aimed at the club. The bass seems more musical and less oppressive (though don’t for one second think this means its’ any less aggressively forward), the percussion more 808 than 666. This edit really pushes Keith’s vocals front and centre, like his chorus exhortation to ‘relieve your mind from exhaustion and distortion’ has informed Submerged’s approach to the vocal production.

‘Off the coast the soundwaves roll like rollerblades’ announces the one they sometimes call Octagon, and it’s one of the many lines that stick out in his delivery. He’s at the top of his delivery, more focussed, less wacky. Certainly, those blades come to mind in the sharpness of the snare sound on the first three mixes, and the bass throughout rolls like a steamroller. Through a proper sound system these variations feel like they’d cause almost physical damage.

Remember Trip Hop? Well this trio have created Bad Trip Hop. And it’s a brief but satisfying nightmare. Let’s get these three mad scientists to pool their not inconsiderable skills for an album.

Label: Ohm Resistance
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Submerged: Facebook | Instagram

Scribed by: Jamie Grimes