Bristol has always been home to one of the most vibrant and cutting edge music scenes in the UK, due in no small part to its huge West Indian population whose love of reggae and dub has influenced music trends in the city since the mid ’70s. After the decline of the ’90s attention wandered, and it wasn’t until the birth of dubstep in London in the early ’00s that Bristol became relevant again. The ethos of collecting influences from West and East and combining them with rumbling, off-kilter bass is definitely something that appealed to young Bristolians searching for a way to express themselves and their heritage in this new sleek and urban society. The movement spawned some real heavyweights, both in terms of artists and labels. Appleblim, Pinch, Joker, Shackleton and Forsaken are just a few of the big names hailing from the southwestern city, with labels Tectonic, Skull Disco and Punch Drunk being some of the most singularly vital imprints in all of EDM.
While the Bristol scene arguably peaked in 2008 when the above artists were first blossoming on the national stage, 2011 has hardly been a slow year. The biggest rising star of Bristol EDM is Joe Cowton, aka Kowton The 26 year-old Cumbrian is making huge strides towards stardom with every release, attempting to ‘incorporate both the rhythmic energy of garage and the depth and intensity of techno.’ This year has already seen Kowton release 3 EPs, most notably Beneath Radar on which he collaborated with Peverelist.
His latest offerings, Keep Walking and Show Me, probably represent his strongest material to date. Keep Walking is a distinctly slinkier effort than anything we’ve heard from him before, with more languid early-evening synths and rhythms that shuffle rather than clatter. Show Me may be less sexy, but exquisitely produced snare-driven beats and a mischevious bassline keep interest high. These two tracks cement Kowton’s status as one of the hottest young producers anywhere in the UK, and definitely someone that fans of the more stripped back UK-style dub ought to pay very close attention to.