[1 December 2011]
Roska and Untold’s “Myth” was a gigantic tune last year, a properly weird, skewed Arabian melody whose vibrato squiggled out of the speakers like a reptilian urchin entranced by the snake-charming programming of the tribal drums. It was a signature piece for the rising Numbers label, which, along with Night Slugs, has helped define the direction of dubstep and funky house in 2011. Rinse 15, Roska’s first mix disc for Rinse, the label run by pirate-turned-legit radio station Rinse FM (where Roska hosts a show every Tuesday) commences with a mash-up the bold weirdness of “Myth” and Jamie George’s nasal croon from his and Roska’s 2009 song “Wonderful Day”. The taunting tone of the MC chant “DJ Roska/ The play boasta” indicts the tune as more of a nag than the warp of one’s temporal consciousness that the original indicates.
Luckily, this ill-fitting hybrid takes up only 3 minutes out of 68. For the rest of Rinse 15, Roska mostly delivers the goods, touching down on a few other crowd-pleasers like Katy B ft Ms. Dynamite’s “Light On”, Zed Bias’s “Neighbourhood”, Manetic Man’s “I Need Air”, and a host of Roska’s own greatest hits (“I Need Love”, “Squark”, and “Jackpot”), without messing with their alchemical formulas too much save for a few expert remixes and fixes.
In between the string of hits, there is a calculated cadence that showcases a close camaraderie amidst his sonic peers. Part of the criticism of this scene stems from the fact that these kin seem to communicate too effectively amongst each other. It’s all too cozy and friendly, there are no bitter rivalries like the ones that accelerated the dance scenes of the 90s. It’s possible that digital tools have just allowed expert DJs like Roska to refine their associative skills more acutely than was previously possible. The result, though, is that the sloppy moments—such as when the darkness of T. Williams’s “In the Deep” seems to anticipate Magnetic Man’s light at the end of the tunnel but derails halfway there—stick out more distinctly and the breach feels more egregious than it should. Contrast this to the “hipster house” of 100% Silk, where the only thing shocking would be the occurrence of any remotely smooth textures. Regardless, Roska proves a gracious host of electronic dance music’s present moment. Even though it’s calculated and cozy, and not at all primeval, Rinse: 15 works great as a primer.