Compro finds Ilian Tape Soundboy Skee Mask re-writing the rulebook of what constitutes proper jungle, hip-hop, and techno in 2018. From AFX'ian ambient, stark Basic Channel dub and the most experimental breaks this side of A Guy Called Gerald's Juice Box label, Compro is a detailed, daringly experimental universe created by an artist who has not only found his voice but when he steps into club mode, shouts louder than anyone else.
With his debut album Shred, Skee Mask built upon his killer first few Ilian Tape white label 12”s, records that while they came out with little fanfare very rightly so set the world alight. The mix of dub techno FX with a coldness that can only come from a mind well schooled within darkside drum & bass was in many ways a vital new page of the techno/dnb/techstep blueprint laid out by artists such as Ed Rush, Optical and No U-Turn, yet influence from grime and dubstep also filtered through. With Compro, Skee Mask turns his gaze toward the sort of ambient techno that labels like Warp, Rephlex and Clear cemented during the mid-'90s, yet don’t think that this is a lesson in melancholy. In true Ilian Tape style, Compro rewires breakbeat techno into daring new modes of dancefloor deconstruction.
Album opener ‘Cerroverb’ sets the pace with a slowly evolving beat that's constantly building in momentum while it cracks through the ice, before letting loose with the machinegun beat of ‘Session Add’, moving from ambient electronica to techy trip-hop with ease. The beats start to form into one never-ending/always evolving loop on 'Rev8617' which sounds like a halftime Chris Clark Clarence Park banger that went AWOL around the time of release. Meanwhile, the mournful strings and dub delay pads of '50 Euro to Break Boost' and the heart racing panic attack rush of 'Via Sub Mids' bring to mind the melancholy for the future that was present in much mid-period Moving Shadow. While Skee Mask has absolutely nailed the ambient jungle vibe on Compro, by the time we reach 'Soundboy Ext.' he hits us back to the snowblind molecules of the album's first moments, yet this time we are armed with a Dillinja style liquid sword, chopping through the jungle borders with a renegade snare intensity that continues until the albums last few bars drop.
While it's this true and strongly evident love of drum & bass, techno, hip-hop and dub that makes Compro such a vital listen, the way Skee Mask digests influences from these genres and rewinds them into his own vision of all things hardcore is remarkable and there are moments that reflect Stone In Focus Aphex, the drumfunk carnage of Paradox, and early Ae acidic electro. Yet the key to success is the way in which the music stays firmly rooted within the here and now.