Misty Conditions almost fooled me. Coming off rusty, dusty and raw from the very first track, at first I pictured the dark and dank warehouses of Chicago, where the street dance, known as footwork, was born. And it shouldn’t be a surprise for me to mistaken this output to be by some newly discovered DJ by Mike Paradinas himself. Some time around 2010, the founder of this electronic music label, who is also known to the scene by his moniker as µ-Ziq, began signing and releasing acts producing ghetto house, juke, and footwork. The initial rolling bass EPs of grime, UK garage and dubstep somehow evolved into the twitching, sample triggered beats of this underground genre, and, I believe, it was DJ Rashad who first propelled this style from local Chicago mix tapes into the living rooms of the label followers, again, thanks to Paradinas, and of course, Planet Mu.
Many releases followed. Many imitators tried and failed. Some became incredibly successful, taking the genre from the hands of true amateurs into the decked out studios. Among the latter, Machinedrum, Boxcutter and Ital Tek are among the most victorious, delivering staggering output which is still resonating after many years. So again, you shouldn’t be surprised that at first I felt mislead by the talent behind Misty Conditions. The sound is purposely distorted, mangled and destroyed to appear as if it was dragged through dirt and filth, or, as the cover leads one to believe, stumped upon by the weight of an elephant. But listening closely I immediately identify some impeccable production values, pristine atmospherics and deliberate attention to the full frequency spectrum. And all of this comes from experience. And of course, I wasn’t wrong.
Misty Conditions is a new group consisting of Henry Collins and Richard Wilson. The former is definitely not a newbie. Recording on Planet Mu since 2004 under his Shitmat alias (plus a release as Kyler), Collins has been responsible for some of the most punishing breakcore, hardcore, and drill’n'bass, Throwing in some bits of ragga, jungle and breakbeat, Shitmat’s sound is definitely a favorite among his contemporaries such as Cardopusher, Bong-Ra, Doormouse and Venetian Snares. The latter, Richard Wilson, previously released albums under his Burnkane and Beatwife monikers. This project produced acid techno, IDM, and experimental d’n'b tracks which were released by Planet Mu, Hyperboloid, and Love Love Records. Meeting for the first time together, the two “jammed for a few days non-stop”, which I suppose, culminated into the gift that has dropped those D’Zzzz.
Shuffling beats, saturated with a barrage of processed 808 samples, vinyl crackle and deep rumbling bass, rip through the rhythms ranging from four-to-the-floor pounding kicks, trap and even a bit of crunky electro. With the D’Zzzz Misty Conditions rolls over your speakers like a muddy tank, crushing the bits, stomping the toms, and burning the reds of your level meters. But listen closely, and there are intricate electronica elements, from perfectly reverbed minor chords, to glitchy percussion and textural pads. This particular skill is especially prevalent in a few dark ambient vignettes sprinkled with some acid, appearing on the album.
What sets aside the presumed lo-fi aesthetic of sound is the total confidence behind each meticulously crafted atmosphere. Clearly distinct from their past individual output, Collins and Wilson create a unique kaleidoscope of styles, which, although at times sounds sporadic, is amazingly coherent as a whole - enough for me to recall single tracks even when I’m not listening to their music. Misty Conditions falls into that category of pioneers which I spoke of so highly above in this writeup. It is the latter post-production treatments that set this effort apart from newcomers, copycats and amateurs. Highly recommended!