It was my first time visiting The Shipping Forecast and as I walked downstairs I could see why Less Effect were using the venue. Cobbled stone floors, very low ceilings and a lack of lighting makes it an ideal spot to enjoy the dubstep and post-dubstep sounds that Less Effect push. The sound system rig that had been set up was a giant wall of speakers that truly enveloped you. The system coupled with the low ceilings created a real feeling of claustrophobia, in a strangely positive sense. The brick and wonky stone environment allows the music to retain dynamics in both volume and frequency keeping you on your toes rather than being too dull and clean. Liverpool is lucky to have venues in this style.
Kode9 was playing a 3 hour set and this allowed him to showcase a variety of sounds that his label Hyperdub are pushing on the scene. The first hour was a medley of bass music moving from sections of 4/4 kicks to sparse half step. Scratch DVA’s ‘Walk It Out’ was a particular stand out tune.
Now everyone was warmed up Kode9 switched into an hour of raucous Grime with tunes from JME, Flowdan and even occasional nods to American hip-hop vocalists. He saved back the infamous ‘Skeng’ for his final tune of the night which received innumerable numbers of reloads to the annoyance of tired bouncers but the pleasure of the clubbers.
As he moved in to the final hour of his extended set you could hear Kode9’s productions coming through. His single ‘Xingfu Lu’ was the bridge needed to begin the transition in to the 160bpm realm of Chicago Footwork.
Kode9’s debut solo album ‘Nothing’ is on its way out in the next couple of weeks and I was keeping a sharp ear out for any exclusives. I managed to pick out ‘Respirator’ the only taster of his album we have heard so far, which got an immediate reload. It was one of the darkest tracks of the night and it worked perfectly in the dungeon like vibes of The Shipping Forecast. If these two tracks are anything to go by Kode9’s album will be full of these strange fusions of Chicago Footwork with a distinctly British sound, drawing from the percussion of grime and the bass of earlier dubstep.
The last hour was full of switch ups with the jungle madness of DJ Tre’s ‘DnB Spaceout’ making everyone go fairly nuts and he finished off with 3 tracks from the latest Hyperdub release DJ Taye’s ‘Break it Down’ EP.
The speaker system was perhaps not quite set up perfectly for footwork with its rapid frequenting 808 kicks descending in to more of a wall of bass than being super clear. In addition the system probably could have done with an ever so slight reduction in volume and more high end. However, it certainly was an intense sonic experience that I did very much enjoy. Perhaps I should just suck it up and buy ear plugs.
I look forward to seeing Kode9 launch his debut album and kudos to the Less Effect team for booking him for an extended 3 hour set. It really allowed the crowd to relax and enjoy the broad showcase of sounds that Hyperdub and Kode9 offer.
You can catch Less Effect’s next show featuring Wen, Parris, Facta and Gantz on the 9th of November.
Words: Rory Hughes