UK club music is defined by its ability to mutate; the product of an always-shifting network of feedback loops between different cities, cultures and dancefloors. Right now, few embody this attitude quite like K-Lone.
The last five years have seen the Brighton-based producer, real name Joe Gladwell, release a string of EPs for Idle Hands, Dr Banana and Wisdom Teeth, the label he co-founded with childhood friend and frequent collaborator Facta in 2014. The London-based imprint is part of a wave of labels channelling UK-born, bass-heavy sounds – albeit occupying a specific corner of the UK scene, aligned with Bristol’s music history; a successor to influential labels Livity Sound and Idle Hands, and peer to Parris’ Soundman Chronicles or Ossia’s Hotline Recordings.
Fittingly, given the dubstep influence, K-Lone and Facta’s entry into making electronic music was spurred on by competition over who could make the biggest wobblers as teenagers. Despite claiming they’ve outgrown the draw of big drops and pull-ups (“Oscar [Henson – Facta] and I have always been slightly afraid of bangers!”) the ubiquity of Lurka’s 100 BPM bomb Stay Let’s Together or the nervous clangour of Steevio’s Syzygy suggests a residual bent for the bass-bin.
It was Gladwell’s 2019 single Sine Language that pushed the label further into uncharted territory, blending trap rolls, Miami bass stomps and weightless ambient interruptions. The track, he explains, is an example of what he calls “coherent experiments”, the likes of which pepper his wide-ranging catalogue. It’s this ability to shapeshift that’s allowed such stylistic variation in his music, from bleep-driven dubstep (BB-8 / Barbarossa), aerated downtempo dub (In the Dust) to the smoother side of UKG (DRB08).
“When I started I was very concerned with having my own sound, whereas I realised I made more music when worrying about that less and just trusting my own process and ear,” he claims, adding that this is also driven by his commitment to DJing. “I’m not the best digger. I listen out for new stuff but often if I want to play a certain sound at a gig, I’ll just make it.”
Cape Cira, his debut LP, shores up his own knack for mutation, breaking new ground yet again. Far from being built for the dancefloor, the album – the first full-length on Wisdom Teeth – is characterised by repetition and what he calls “natural sounding” sonics, built around polyrhythms and humid textures. There are shades of his previous work – the pointillistic Woniso or the stepping bounce of last year’s Dance of the Vampires, but taken as a whole the album feels more meditative, rooted in our earthly surroundings. Perhaps because it’s the product of a concentrated burst of creativity while Gladwell was travelling at the end of 2018.
“Writing music on a computer is a very solitary thing, and this is something I could escape into.” He elaborates, “In these times, when we live in such a state of fear, the process of making and listening to music is an opportunity to escape. Cape Cira is an imaginary place I just liked spending time in.”
Sounds like: Club music from the fringes
Soundtrack for: Contemplative raving
File next to: Ploy, Visible Cloaks
Our favourite song: In the Pines
Where to find him: @KLONEuk
Cape Cira is out now via Wisdom Teeth