Filter Dread is a name that few will have heard of until recently - a true underground operator with a unique sonic and visual aesthetic.
The first contact I had with him was when he sent over a zip filled with tracks to play on radio, a mad selection of stretched and warped amen-reinterpretations that defied any easy classification. Some of them were sketches, some 30 seconds long - sharp shots of rave heritage - straight into the mainline. Thick fogs of dread pads and carbon steel breakbeats slowed almost to the point of total abstraction, the reference points are there but in trace amounts. The rest is exploring a new space - breaks stretched to their serrated limit, exposing the pitted drum hits that the UK underground is built on, from Jungle to Grime and beyond.
The zip files kept coming, some with titles, some without. Suddenly I realised there were about 50 of his tracks on my hard disc.
Perhaps time for a little research, then, in light of his latest release on NoCorner - 22 tracks that reinterpret 20 years of source material and recompose it through a twisted maze of appropriately archaic technology, seamlessly spread over 44 minutes of chrome cassette tape.
Truth be told, I know very little about Filter Dread. Our short discourses have only ever been through iPhone emails or the 140-character limit of a DM. He appears to exist in his own hyper-driven world of endless creativity, firing out more zips, snapshots of his seemingly endless ideas - rough ideas, drum loops left to evolve within certain parameters. And therein lies his genius.
There is no need to polish these tracks and, indeed, on the rare occasion that a Filter Dread track comes close to having a little polishes applied, the magic disappears.
He doesn’t chase fame, I don’t know if he DJs - I want to keep it that way. He makes his own tape pack and rave flyer-inspired artwork to accompany his tracks, fan art for any clips of his tracks that get played on radio (Rinse for example).
You could dig deeper and find out the details, his influences, (as obvious as they are) his working methods, his name and where he is based, a list of people who have been playing his tracks and probably even try and film him making a beat in 10 minutes ‘against the clock’ style. But why would you want to?
Just like the polishing of his tracks, all this obnoxious digging would only spoil the magic. So, for now, I’m more than content with pressing play on his only physical release to date and getting lost in the dense, paranoid hazes of late nights and patch leads.
Long may this truly liberated mind explore and experiment, creating some of the most exciting and truly underground sounds I have encountered in a long time. Cannily distanced just far away enough from the long greasy arm of the hype machine.