El-B, like many of garage’s key producers became fairly quiet in the years following the genre’s heyday. But his fundamental influence on dubstep, in combination with vocal endorsements from the likes of Skream and Burial, has encouraged a revived interest in the previously under-appreciated South Londoner.
‘Cuba’, a joint effort with frequent Ghost Records contributor Roxy, begins with a playful flute motif which is repeated throughout. While the riff’s jaunty chromatic movement is impressive on its own, it is the combination of rhythm and melody which truly define the track: El-B’s obsession with swing is immediately evident, and the jazzy syncopation that occurs between the sparse instrumentation and the beat is both captivating and unique. It is undeniable that the song is resolutely simple (the only other element is a fleeting vocal sample), but ‘Cuba’ perfectly represents the darker side of UKG in which Ghost specialised, and underlines El-B’s reputation for creating forward-thinking bass music. A-side ‘Breakbeat Science’ is also an essential listen, and what is perhaps most endearing about these tracks is that their sound is unmistakably from the UK.
– Ben Scott