Sherelle’s ‘160 DOWN THE A406’ is a charming debut from one of electronic music’s most exciting acts
U.K artist Sherelle has felt like a breath of fresh air. The London DJ has been on an extraordinary come up over the past two years, going from underground superstar to international recognition. Quickly becoming one of the U.K’s most in-demand acts, her résumé includes a residency at BBC’s RadioOne and gigs at iconic venues in the ilk of Berlin’s Panorama Bar. In the midst of her rise, one thing has been clear: Sherelle is making things happen on her own terms. She launched her label Hooversound last year, and announced recently that she would be launching another called Beautiful, which will specifically focus on promoting queer P.O.C acts. Her visibility as a Black queer artist and commitment to her politics has felt incredibly refreshing and honest, subversive for an industry where personas and images are meticulously crafted for public consumption. It’s fitting then that her debut EP should follow Sherelle’s playbook of making her own rules. 160 DOWN THE A406 is entirely self-released, arriving with a simple message from Sherelle, brutal in its honesty and vulnerability: ENJOY MY DEBUT PLS xxx.
This brutal honesty lends itself to the music on 160 DOWN THE A406. The two track EP is largely informed by Sherelle’s DJ sets, which themselves are crafted from an obsession with finding the core of U.K dance styles such as jungle and grime that originate from Black music forms like Reggae and Chicago footwork. Jungle and grime mostly inform the direction of Sherelle’s sound, but her take is less hardcore and brighter in aesthetic and relates the forms back to the laidback swagger of housey footwork. The music is a mesmerising concoction of rave motifs, breakbeats and sultry garage vocals. These are all familiar sounds, rooted in U.K dance tradition, but Sherelle’s arrangement and formulations of these tropes into her brand of club feels distinct. The title track opens the EP with pulsing, high octane rave percussion but quickly swerves with the introduction of a warm, ebbing house synth. From here, 160 DOWN THE A406 slowly evolves itself into a lush breakbeat pattern which is accented with twinkling xylophone notes in its final act. It’s energetic and bright, full of the sort of optimistic exuberance that radiates from Sherelle herself. RHYTHM LOVE (FEEL IT) is arguably the stronger of the two and showcases Sherelle’s more experimental side and knack for syncopated polyrhythms. The energy on this track is euphoric, sweeping you up its ecstasy and keeping you on the high by way of a rising cadence and scattered, plucked string chords that add a cosmic sparkle to the jubilance.
The EP marks an important turning point for Sherelle towards establishing her identity as a producer. These two tracks propose the direction of her own sound, the cardinal points of which had previously been defined by her work as a selector, and the journey looks to be a riveting reprieve from the boys club of electronic music. As a debut from one of the genre’s most exciting new acts, 160 DOWN THE A406 excels in fulfilling its purpose with an endearing sense of character and charm that aptly reflects the artist behind the music. Listen to the EP below.