Joker, James Blake and Girl Unit head up Numbers Sub Club date
Glasgow Guy Fawkes Night triple bill
David Pollock checks out Numbers triple bill of guests as Joker, James Blake and Girl Unit hit Glasgow
It’s Guy Fawkes Night, and while children in hoodies are throwing fireworks at each other in the park and building bonfires in places they’re not supposed to, the Sub Club is going to explode with the sound of the biggest party to hit Glasgow this fortnight. Dubstep, bass, ghetto house and more will collide in a big nasty heap on the dancefloor at this, the latest of Numbers’ all-guest showcase nights.
You know who Numbers are by now, right? You’ve heard The List and the sharpest tacks in the national media’s box banging on about the fact they’ve been reinventing Glasgow’s music scene in their own image for a while now, yeah? Well, they’ve tried this takeover thing before. In 2009 it was a Warp-themed triple-header from Flying Lotus, Hudson Mohawke and Rustie, although those last two are also old Numbers hands. Earlier this year the show had a Hyperdub flavour, as dubstep emissaries Kode9, Martyn and Floating Points dropped on the club. Both experiments went well, so once more the regular Numbers support team are giving way to a trio of artists that you’re going to be all over within a few months, if you aren’t already.
First up is Joker, aka 21-year-old Bristolian Liam McLean, making a return to Numbers here. Following on from the city’s exemplary recent history of producing outstanding dubstep artists, it was one of them who gave Joker his big break – Rob Ellis, aka Pinch, who released the ‘Kapsize’ EP on his Earwax label in 2007. Since then Joker’s combined the edgy darkness of dubstep with laid-back hip hop beats through a bunch of releases on his own Kapsize label, put out a couple of tracks through Hyperdub and almost recorded his debut album for release next year. ‘Bristol’s answer to [George Clinton’s keyboard player] Bernie Worrell,’ is how his hosts generously describe him. ‘Nearly everything he releases ends up as a Numbers anthem.’
Just as young is James Blake, a Londoner who’s been producing for not much more than two years – it’s part of his degree at the city’s Goldsmiths College. His beats are gorgeous, though, and fit into the dubstep bracket in the sense that almost anything does these days. An R&B influence is often hinted at too: just check out the way he samples tracks into late-night oblivion, chopping and fragmenting them until they resemble ghostly artificial echoes, on the recent ‘CMYK’ EP (released on the classic and now resurgent techno label R&S). The influence of similarly well-educated polymath Burial is clear.
Next to this pair of veterans, Girl Unit is the new kid on the block, even though Londoner Philip Gamble is three years older than the others. If anything, his sound is also drawn from a broader range, with the familiar dubstep ‘wobble’ and heavily spliced vocals offset by the starkly upbeat sound of Chicago house thrown into the blender. He’s one of the latest additions to Bok Bok and L-Vis 1990’s Night Slugs label and his only recording for them so far, the recent ‘IRL’ EP, is essential listening. Hell, all of the above are essential listening, and you can find the lot here for a tenner. That’s the beauty of the Numbers game.
Numbers at the Sub Club, Glasgow, Fri 5 Nov.