When it comes to the pioneering ubiquitous UK à la Bristol’s Livity Sound, who better to head the envoy than Bakongo himself? The alter-ego of Roska, Bakongo sculpts wildly complex rhythms with a diverse range of percussive instruments to create a fantastical clash of organic and technological soundscapes. Hosted by Sorted and the Black Box, this Saturday, Denver will be treated to the cutting edge, genre-bending sounds of the UK underground, as told by UK’s current pioneers.
Wayne Goodlitt, the man behind Bakongo and Roska, decided in 2019 that he wanted to change up his style and focus more on the Bakongo moniker’s project. His style is integral to the identity of the UK underground, and he has spent most of his career as a trailblazer — so naturally, Goodlitt feels inclined to change up his sound again in order to keep the progression of underground music forward.
Through a series of releases on influential dance labels like Numbers, Tectonic and Hotflush Recordings, along with two albums for Rinse Recordings in 2012, Goodlitt originally blazed a trail for funk to return to the clubs. He continues to push the sound firmly into the future, nowadays with influences spanning wider than ever, on his own genre-blurring record label, Roska Kicks & Snares (RKS). With over 50 releases to boast on the imprint, RKS has welcomed artists from across the globe since 2009. Most significantly, however, is Bakongo’s most recent release on Livity Sound’s Reverse series, Momoweb / Disposition / Goulbap. Originally designed as a series to run concurrently with the Livity Sound label as an outlet that demonstrates the sonic aesthetics of the notorious label, the Reverse series has evolved into an institution of cutting edge UK dance music in its own right, featuring releases from artists like Batu, Bruce, Forest Drive West and Hodge.
His music contains a meld of influences from various genres, from grime to dubstep, afrobeat and house. Basslines reverberate at deep and low frequencies. The focus on melody in Bakongo’s productions is minimal, with the producer opting to let the more subtle elements rise to the forefront. Stripped down to its radioactive core, Bakongo lets his expansive rhythms ring out, filling the silences with the full depth of each element. Incorporating elements of sound that reference his Jamaican heritage as well as paying homage to South African house styles, Bakongo has been pushing the boundaries of UK underground music for over a decade under his various aliases.
Sharing the bill with Bakongo is fellow Brit, Blackdown, who hails from London. His style leans more towards ravey acid breaks that straddle the line between junglist-style steppin’ and dancehall and grime-influenced oscillations and vocal samples. Blackdown tends to add more rattling percussive elements as opposed to Bakongo’s more minimalistic approach. However, both take full advantage of deep and low basslines, creating an entire wall of immersive sound that plunges listeners down into a dark cave of billowing grooves.
Last but certainly not least, local stalwart Visc will warm up the decks with his truly unpredictable choice of underground cuts. Visc, the alias of Marcus Galimore, has called Denver his home for the last decade or so, and is beloved by many in the underground community. It is rare to miss him on the dance floor, as he has dedicated much of his free time exploring music of all genres. Having seen Visc perform countless times in the last four or so years, he never fails to bring a USB full of new, juicy jams, spinning everything from DnB to R&B to house, dubstep and club. Whatever genre one can think of within the context of underground dance parties, Visc has it all, and only plays the best selections.
Bakongo will play with Blackdown and Visc this Saturday, February 8, at the Black Box. Tickets are a steal at their price point, offering an easily affordable opportunity to experience internationally celebrated music on a world-class sound system.