Last week, London radio station Rinse FM went legit, receiving an FM broadcast license. The pirate radio station (exclusively online since a government crackdown in 2005) has been a driving force in the UK underground dance scene since 1994. Garage, grime, dubstep, and UK funky have thrived with the support of the station, which has exposed the world to influential artists like Dizzee Rascal and Skream. The station also runs a record label, whose latest release is the full-length debut by UK funky producer Roska.
Roska (aka Wayne Goodlitt) is one of the foremost producers in a genre that – while sharing some influences and sounds with dubstep – has developed in response to the aggro-bro feel of the dubstep scene. The beats are closer to those of house, with a soca shuffle and tribal elements; UK funky is much better suited for dancing than for moshing.
Roska’s record is a great starting point for listeners unfamiliar with UK funky. Nearly half of the tracks feature R&B-flavored singers Anesha, Jamie George, and Nikki. These hook-based songs, especially “Love 2 Nite,” are all cross-over contenders. The first single, “I need love,” highlights the vocals and an insistent snare line over a bubbling bassline.
The album also features fantastic UK funky-dubstep hybrids. On “Time Stamp,” reedy synths do battle with a dark, minor-keyed bassline, while “Burn in Flames” pits flamenco piano against bouncing synths and some serious bass. The title of “Squark” refers to trill, bird-like synths that are met with a pulsing rhythm and slick guitar chords on the downtempo romp.
Roska is coming off a Sonar Barcelona show curated by dubstep diva Mary Anne Hobbs that also included sets by Flying Lotus and Joy Orbison. Check out the interview and mix he did for Hobbs on BBC Radio 1 back in March. With co-signs by Rinse FM and Mary Anne Hobbs, Roska is definitely doing something right.