Slikback - MELT (LP)
Album Review

Published: November 27th 2021

Artwork: Björn Holzweg


Chilling. Razor sharp. Swaggy. These are all words that spring to mind when you hear Slikback’s music. The Kenyan artist has become prolific in recent years for his wild production style that, more often than not, falls head first into harder terrain and leaves us completely awestruck. The rate in which he releases music has become equally unrelenting - he put out an EP almost every month this year. But despite his reputation, it’s not all about Slikback, he has an appetite for collaboration too - take his work with Hyph11E on SVBKVLT back in 2019 or the 2020 ‘Split’ EP on PAN with Soda Plains, as only two examples. His newest album, MELT, is a complete tribute to the magic of co-working, in which he invites a staggering sixteen contemporary producers (‘Friends x Fam’ to him) to produce tracks for one mighty self-release.

Although we know of Slikback unanimously for his harsh tones, it’s important to remember the many styles and textures that make-up his music. You often hear him crush intensive rhythms with parts of grime and trap, bass and even industrial techno at times. And indeed, the names he dials up on ‘MELT’ represent that ever shifting landscape of sound. Slikback meets his most, shall we say, ‘classic’ matches in artists like Tzusing on ‘Jahad’ with unmistakable trap stylings, or Van Boom on ‘Skin Tight’ which has a similar grime swagger to it, set against a backdrop of maximalist, crunching noise, which feels rather gabber-like. The exploration of heavy metal with Brodinski on ‘Mugen’ is yet another effortless partnership, you can almost envisage the two hunched over machinery, churning it out.

Across ‘MELT’, the true dynamics of a collaborative relationship come through; the push and pull between two souls combining to make new beasts. In some instances, we hear a reframing of Slikback’s classic form. This is most clear on tracks like ‘PSI’ with DJ No Regular Meat from Russia, where the thrust of Slikback’s rhythms dip and dive with No Regular Meat’s trance-y synth work. The same can be said for the link up with Objekt on ‘Apex’. It’s not a secret that the pair both share a love for bass music, but on ‘Apex’ we see Slikback’s grit offset by the markedly liquid-like textures of Objekt, that sit forward in the mix. It’s the type of track that pulls you in all different directions, in the best possible way.

On the other hand, we also see artists more known for their lightness, pushed into new zones  by the weightiness of Slikback. For example, on ‘Dissocation’ with KMRU. The delicacy of KMRU comes through in the field recorded soundscapes and light jazz-style hi-hats, yet it feels like this whole arrangement is sat in a wind turbine on full whack; this extremity is a touch we can presume is from Slikback.

Slikback has always operated both at the centre and on the periphery of different electronic scenes. At the centre, he is responsible for putting a new movement of African producers on the map. On the periphery, he is moving only forwards, focused on his thing, bending genres into new forms, unmatched and in his own lane. The many names that feature on this album come from all areas of the world. It’s a tangible representation of just how far Slikback’s work has reached thus far. And with so many fresh takes on what we thought we knew of him, ‘MELT’ offers an exciting suggestion of the many places his music could go next.