Hurdslenk – “Outside” EP (Hardgroove) [April 5, 2024]

Hurdslenk has been something of a freshman producer, having only started out in 2021 with a few digital releases in 2023 and a slamming release on Key Vinyl full of dancefloor burners. In some cases, it seems like some freshmen producers drop their first tracks and struggle past the frustration of trying to maintain consistency and notoriety on smaller labels, while some producers mature like fine wine in private. We’re going to assume that Hurdslenk is in the latter camp, since there’s a deep level of maturity and restraint in his music and a very solid understanding of what works on a dance floor. Additionally, Hurdslenk seems very focused on not rehashing the past for what some people would consider Hardgoove’s glory years, full of “recycled loops and chops”. Instead, Hurdslenk focuses on advancing the sound of Hardgroove conceptually.

You can hear a good example of this with “Collect,” where the funk of the loop is pared down to some essential elements—most of the groove is inferred. It’s like a minimalistic statement of groove theory where the audience has to feel the song to fill out the missing parts. This is quite a phenomenal and forward-thinking artistic statement, but still, it functions as a great dance track because it’s a direct communication to the dancefloor and its dancers. 

Further evidence of this future-forward approach to the Hardgroove sound can be heard with “False Pretence.” The familiar Hardgroove sampling is there, but most of the groove is found in the separation of the root notes in the bass and the timing of the arpeggiation above it. There’s a good amount of funk found within the beat, but the main idea is definitely there in filtering and within the living breathing synth line that helps guide your ear deeply inside the mix.

The track “Jugular” seems like it would not be out of place on Setaoc Mass’ SK-X series with its heavily compressed midrange and eerie, bewildering synth carries, providing a very tense environment. The track provides a great deal of tension in the mix and would be great as a DJ tool to set up a heavier and bass-laden record later in the set.

In “Futures,” the inferred Hardgroove sound can mostly be found in the hi-hat delay. Most of the groove in the track is found in the velocity of the bassline and how it plays off the vocal hit and the tweaky mechanical synth line over the top.

To say that Hurdslenk has groove theory down to a science may be an understatement… What’s really impressive here on this “Outside” EP release is the ability to translate the historical context of the Hardgroove sound to a modern-day dancefloor, simultaneously coming up with a unique conceptual approach to funk and element timing to say something new about Techno music. For that, Hurdslenk gets the highest praise.

-Sean Ocean

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