The first installment of Spooky's forthcoming mix series project 'Spartan Sessions' is comfortably one of the toughest mix offerings I've ever heard. After first listening only last week, my mind harked back to a recent interview I'd done with Dan Gar Dan, himself a technically excellent grime DJ, and an issue he'd raised concerning the substantial lack of grime DJs able to mix the sound competently enough to do it justice; Spooky is the most emphatic of exceptions.
A regular on London's underground airwaves and a big personality to boot, Spooky's magic always lay in his ability to put on a cracking radio show, but since the success of much-lauded club monster 'Spartan' back in 2010, he has developed credible new strings to his bow. Now a valued producer and label owner, he has learnt how to promote himself too; Spartan Sessions is the latest in a line of projects that have helped solidify his underground status.
Although there are some obvious and unavoidable similarities with radio material, Spartan Sessions marks an incredible journey through contemporary grime music. Although still raw, it manages to balance grime's stylistic sub-cultures well and doesn't rely too heavily on any one aspect of the contemporary sound. Also applaudable is the sheer variety of producers on show; heavyweights Preditah and Faze Miyake share equal stage with up-and-comers Swifta Beater, K1 and the exceptionally versatile Moony. The inclusion of a number of Spooky's self-titled 'myths', tracks re-fixed to maximize impact, is also a feature of note too, with Preditah's 'Nosy Parker' / 'Circles' and Faze Miyake's 'Take Off' particularly dominant in the opening stages.
Marcus Nasty and Funk Butcher's collaborative work from their recent 'Nasty Butcher' EP is perhaps the most surprising inclusion, alongside Moony's 'All I Do is 138 DJ', a wonderful blend of two of Zinc's early garage classics '138 Trek' and 'Go DJ'. Both provide welcome diversions in and amongst the heavier cuts but take little away from the overriding hard-hitting delivery. The mix is finished off in typically bruising style by Deset's 'Crisis', a track released on Spooky's 'Ghost House' imprint late last year.
Whilst quintessentially a wonderful snapshot of grime in 2012, light-hearted Spartan Sessions is most certainly not. It will surely find favour amongst purists as opposed to fans of the genre's more contemporary side but taking nothing away from Spooky, this is grime at it's purest, rawest and most evocative; whilst it may not be everybody's cup of proverbial tea, it is the truest reflection of what is still the UK's most exciting sound.
Spartan Sessions Volume 1 will be available from www.spookybizzle.com from May 21st.