KXVU – Empire EP [Southpoint] [Review]

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Eighteen months since his last Southpoint release, KXVU returns back to his proverbial home. Keeping himself in shape with a series of remixes and releases on compilations, KXVU has been using the time away from the STPT family to further progress his production skills and work hard on his sound. ‘Empire’ is the result of that work, with 5 originals and 2 remixes on the EP.

Empire

From the very first second, you know the title track is going to be a heavy hitter. Epic stabs of choir set the tone as hats and percussion wriggle away underneath, before crisp breaks and sinister horns push their way to the forefront. We can 99.99% guarantee the drop is not what you’re expecting – a huge, rasping Reese that could straight up take your head off leads the way, teaming up with a deeper pulsing bass hit. The drums sit immaculately in the mix; anchored by a weighty kick, the aforementioned breaks and percussion work together to create the underlying momentum that pushes ‘Empire’ along. How satisfying is that cowbell too? If KXVU was hoping to kick things off strongly, he couldn’t do a much better job than this!

Tekki (feat Writz)

Even though it starts with flowing influences from the East, don’t expect ‘Tekki’ to be a subtle mover – the vibe is quickly flipped into a Trap inspired, 808 rinse out.  Writz glides effortlessly over the rolling kick / bass combos, scattershot claps and snares, triplet hats and flourishes of breaks, with gritty, hi passed Reeses haunting in the background. The breakdown is perfectly placed, allowing listeners to catch their breath before dropping into more of the same, making ‘Tekki’ 3 minutes and 30 seconds of high energy bass driven madness, suitable for any kind of rave centred around Bass music.

Hex (ft Shana Stuart)

‘Hex’ sees KXVU team up with another vocalist, though this time it’s the gorgeously pure, floating tones of Shana Stuart. A sparse intro builds tension as atmospherics covered in reverb and subtle percussion echoes and pans. Another flute riff inspired by the East is the main motif,  twisting around more thumping 808s, though the percussion in ‘Hex’ is definitely more Breaks focused than that in ‘Tekki’ with the tribal drums creating a brilliant, natural rolling rhythm. Regular intervals really allow for the track to breathe and help to achieve maximum impact as everything comes back in at once, and means Shana’s brilliant vocal gets full focus. Again, credit to KXVU on his drums – from the silenced gunshot to the ride cymbal, everything sounds incredible.

Koya

If you weren’t already impressed by KXVU’s drum work and sense of space, then Koya should definitely win you over. The intro is wide open as vinyl crackles, sound effects and a thin square lead, all absolutely soaked in reverb, bounce off each other before rapid fire breaks add a sense of drive and direction. As soon as ‘Koya’ drops, the previously mentioned breaks cut through everything else, backed now by a punchy kick and rumbling bassline with some very slick fills. There is still background atmospherics, but now the space seems to be much smaller; at least until the breakdowns anyway. If there was a track on this EP that indicated that KXVU has been working on his production, as far as we’re concerned, this is it.

Ratisu

‘Ratisu’ is the last original track on the release, and is the piece that relates most to Dubstep. Centred around eerie, plucked strings and a haunting vocal, half time claps and a bumpy, rolling sub/kick combo make up the bulk of the rest of the track. This allows everything else to have a heap of space and, as you’d expect, means there’s heaps of reverb. ‘Ratisu’ shows that there’s more to KXVU than frenetic breaks and attention grabbing basslines; he’s also perfectly adept at working with the bare minimum.

Hex (ft Shana Stuart) [Mr B Remix]

First up on remix duties is Mr B, who flips the flute motif and Shana Stuart’s vocals from  ‘Hex’ into pulsing Dubstep territory. There’s almost a Funky rhythm to the way the snares have been programmed, and the tribal percussion adds to that vibe. A metallic hit adds interest as the drums switch between stripped back half time and moody carnival and Shana’s vocal teases and pans in the background. The bass line is a simple pulse, adding some low end rhythm too. Classily done, and very effective.

Ratisu [JFO Remix]

Continuing on the Dubstep theme is JFO who has grabbed ‘Ratisu’ by the balls and helped it realise it’s full potential as a Dubstep track. The drums are on point (the snare is as crisp as it gets) and there’s plenty of tension created by reverb tails and atmospherics but the real draw is the intense, fluttering sub that pairs up perfectly with the triplet hat pattern as the original string plucks act once more as a lead line.

Selecta’s Favourite Track: Koya

Overall: 9/10

KXVU’s journey since his last Southpoint release has clearly seen him take in a heap of different influences and they’ve translated brilliantly in to his music. He said in a recent interview with us that he wanted to use this EP to show off not only the sheer amount of variety in his own productions but also that of Southpoint’s output and we think he’s succeeded. Every track on ‘Empire’ has an immediate genre you can place it in, but listen deeper to the different rhythmic elements and the sounds being used and you start to realise there’s so many different genres in play; we heard elements of Dubstep, Grime, UK Funky, Jungle and Breaks. To be able to hint at such a huge amount of diversity and still reach the end of the project with 5 cohesive, original pieces of music is incredible – let alone also having 2 remixers on board who seem to fully grasp the idea of the EP. We can’t help but feel ‘Empire’ will go on to be a seminal release in KXVU’s career. 

You can buy Kxvu – ‘Empire’ here.

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