La Belle Angele, Edinburgh
Bristol based duo My Nu Leng headlined La Belle Angele on 15 October, supported by Deadbeat UK. With supergroup TQD (the combined forces of Royal-T, DJ Q and Flava D) set to arrive in the upcoming month, and regular nights Loco Kamanchi (Wednesdays, The Bongo Club) and Church (Mash House, Thursday fortnightly) pushing a British brand of bass-heavy music to the fore, this seems to be a particularly resurgent time for UK bassline music in Scotland’s capitol.
Having been booked to play and curate the main room at Fabric as recently as September (only for the club to be shut down by Islington Council) and with a string of festival appearances this summer at Glastonbury, Boomtown, Outlook and Bestival, as well as Notting Hill Carnival, to name but a few, there was palpable excitement at the opportunity to see My Nu Leng in such a small and intimate venue.
Given their frequent presence and ubiquity within UK club culture, it could be suggested that the challenge that remained for them was to not rest on their laurels and continue to innovate their live sound and set; Regardless, such challenges seem not to bother Tommy and Jammo. Ripping through an absolutely blistering one and a half hour set, it appeared that crowd-pleasing was the only goal in mind. Such a lack of pretension could potentially be perceived as a negative, but with staples such as the brutal ‘Set It’ and ‘Soul Shake’ the decision to stick with what they know best comes off with aplomb as their signature numbers rumbled out of the bruising Electrikal Sound System, combining perfectly with Dread MC’s aggressive brand of lyricism.
The duo’s decision to move to Bristol during early adulthood seems paramount in shaping their musical upbringing. In particular, Bristol’s solid foundation in drum and bass was a prominent influence; Tommy cites it as his ‘first love of dance music’, echoed by Jammo in a recent interview with Fabric for their FABRICLIVE86 mix. The fizzing intensity and moodiness that is so marked by the early Playaz releases (most notably Dj Zinc’s Super Sharp Shooter and 138 Trek) resonates within their sound and aligns itself with their wish of not wanting to be pigeonholed within any one movement, and culminates in them dropping The Prodigy’s seminal Firestarter, raptly received by the audience. Moreover, the sound of Trip Hop and Electronic pioneers Massive Attack and Portishead (also Bristol natives) also filters through on releases such as 2014 production Masterplan, which channels the more aggressive side of Massive Attack’s repertoire, and comparisons can be drawn with My Nu Leng’s work and Massive Attacks seismic 1998 release Angel.
Whether or not My Nu Leng can reach the dizzying heights of their predecessors (Massive Attack won the 1996 Brit Award for Best British Dance Act) and influence generations of musicians to come remains to be seen; but if they continue to churn out performances like Saturday night’s, they will almost certainly continue to embody the here and now of UK dance music.
Photo: Resident Advisor