[2nd June 2014]
04. Paralysed – The Algorithm remix
05. This Is Our World – Victory Pill remix
It is perhaps unusual to start a review – in this instance for Seething Akira‘s spiky debut EP Aggro Vito - with a bit of a history lesson, but sometimes context is important.
In the mid-nineties, alternative culture in the UK was under attack. Through tabloid hysteria about ‘New Age Travellers’ and also in legislation, not least in what would become the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act of 1994. At that time, people were literally fighting for the right to party, but the somewhat ironic flipside was that this adversarial atmosphere fostered a hugely exciting array of music which pulled together technological advances, an uncompromisingly defiant attitude and a powerful compulsion to dance like there’s no tomorrow. With bands like The Prodigy, Pitchshifter, Senser, Asian Dub Foundation and Radical Dance Faction leading the charge in blending electronica and live performance, there was plenty worth fighting for.
All of this is worth mentioning, because there is much in Aggro Vito that is reminiscent of this time. That, of course, is not to say that the EP is just a 90s nostalgia trip – Seething Akira’s ‘stepcore’ (that’s dubstep meets hardcore, kids. You heard it here first) is bang up to date in the ingredients of their sonic cocktail, Molotov or otherwise – but in temperament and danceability, it most definitely has its roots in this period of recent history.
Providing one last, albeit physical, link between Seething Akira’s present and the ghosts of parties past is the presence in the producers chair of Jim Davies. As a guitarist, his contributions to both The Prodigy and Pitchshifter gave him a firm grounding in this hybrid sound, which has no doubt helped him to present Seething Akira’s tracks in the best possible light. In the three main tracks of this release, the production is pin-sharp and professional without being cold or clinical.
Two of the tracks on offer here have already seen the light of day in the form of videos which showcase the band’s sense of humour as well as the tunes themselves. We wrote about “Paralysed” on its release not too long ago, but it is “Firepower” that really sees Seething Akira firing on all cylinders. This track is worth the purchase price of the EP on its own; a proper dancefloor stomper, it welds an uptempo verse to a wub-heavy chorus with a hefty groove that gives seasoned party professionals like Enter Shikari a run for their money.
Seething Akira’s sound is also recognisably British. This is largely due to rappers Kit and Charlie thankfully resisting the urge to adopt awkward and cringey quasi-American accents or idioms, so they remain Straight Outta Portsmouth. The rhymes throughout the EP are solid and their lines all scan well, which is more than can be said for some of their peers. “This Is Our World” does veer dangerously into teen angst territory with its “If you don’t like us then fuck you too” refrain, but it is only a minor transgression.
As clear as the mix is, it is definitely weighted more towards the electroniic than the organic elements of the sound. However, especially given that the band have added a second guitarist to their line-up recently, it’s probably reasonable to assume that the balance inverts when the tracks are played live.
The EP is bolstered by a pair of remixes, “This is Our World” sees Jim Davies wearing his Victory Pill hat, and given more latitude than on the three fully produced tracks. The Algorithm remix of “Paralysed” injects some of Remi Gallego’s trademark electronic mentalism into the track, whilst retaining the character of the original.
Above all, Aggro Vito does what all debut releases should set out to do: in just a handful of quality tracks, it establishes Seething Akira’s template and is practically dripping with promise for the future. They may well have taken their cues from something of a golden age in British music, but their in-your-face soundclash is firmly in the here-and-now. With crossover music enjoying something of a resurgence, Seething Akira’s mix of breakbeats and breakdowns should turn heads and shake hips in equal measure.