First Impression: Airhead's “October” and “Macondo"

Airhead's "October" and "Macondo".
On the heels of his Believe EP on 1-800 Dinosaur, Airhead is back in the works again with two calamitous tracks, “October” / “Macondo”. The release reveals a more brutal, dancefloor-hardened disposition than we’ve previously seen from the UK producer, but is a logical step upstairs from Believe’s spacious basement-club explorations. As introduced by the press release, “Yep! Airhead’s writing big ones now.”

This claim is instantly justified by side A, “October”, where brooding bass weight and the occasional spy-movie trumpet highlight Airhead’s grander party designs. More energetic than usual, the production swings in the space between higher densities and one can’t help but sway to its jagged motion. Yet, “October” still unsettles in a nail-to-chalkboard manner: mechanical voices seethe out from layers of shrill arpeggios, helicopter-blade snare rolls and booming 808s, before one is rudely cautioned, “Don’t go there.”

The flip, “Macondo”, pairs neatly with “October” but is not quite as sinister, having more of a direct lineage from Believe in its sparse construction. With little more than 8-bit clicks, synth-stabs and serrated drum-rolls, “Macondo” is somewhat subdued in comparison to the first side but has the persistence of a decent mid-set track—getting better as the track wears on.

Devotees will have heard these tunes already (collaborator/friend/label-mate James blake previewed “Macondo” on his BBC Radio 1 show, whilst both tracks featured on Airhead’s own Fact Mix in between other atonal dystopian-steppers) but the singles are now seeing an official vinyl and digital release on Untold’s Hemlock Recordings label. The release hints at further activity from Hemlock, that has been quiet in the past two years, having once been so instrumental in spreading a post-dubstep gospel in bass music realms. Fortunately, this resurgence seems aligned with Airhead’s own narrative, as he champions a return to experimental, sparse, minimal bass roots. We can only hope for more from this combination of characters.

Written by Justin Kwok
Justin Kwok is a Media Studies major at UC Berkeley, but daydreams of being an instrumentalist in some electronic duo. He enjoys deep bass music and psychedelia.

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