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Tunnel/Rotten Guts

(Ninja Tune; US: Available as import; UK: 16 Mar 2009)

I love being excited about a new Ninja Tune release. The label has been responsible for many pivotal music moments in my life, and now Etan “Shuttle” Groundswell’s cathartic “Tunnel” has joined them. The track starts with a smooth minimal house atmosphere, moving to epic ‘80s retro-futurist synths coalescing over an industrial hip-hop come dubstep beat. The synths move through their melodic cycle a few times and, when it peaks, the cut explodes on a mean, warping house beat with all the force of a freight-train. It seems a lot longer than its four and a half minutes, in a very good way.

The 12-inch b-side “Rotton Guts” isn’t quite as mind-blowing. Canadian firecracker emcee Cadence Weapon adds his signature heady flow to an electro hip-house beat, punctuated by a squeaky vocal sample. Filling out the vinyl single is a High Rankin remix of “Tunnel” that does everything the original does, only not as well, focusing mostly on the metallic dubstep side of the track. That said, the original mix of “Tunnel” is easily worth the price of admission alone. In a world still engrossed by Burial, this will stand as one of the best electronic singles of 2009. It will be something to see what the Boston prodigy producer will do with a full-length.


Author of blurbs, curator of playlists, and booker of shows, Alan Ranta has been plugging away at that music writing and programming thing since 2004. His brutally honest critical opinion has appeared in such publications as Exclaim!, CBC Music, PopMatters and Tiny Mix Tapes, and has been enlisted to help judge the Polaris Music Prize, Pazz & Jop, and Juno Awards. Based in East Van, he graduated with a BFA in music from Simon Fraser University in 2012. He's also a social media plague, cat whisperer, socio-political haranguer, Canucks fan, and one of the last remaining cowboys.

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