‘No Rest’ is the recent EP from the Manchester jungle outfit Red Eye HiFi. The release, which consists of two main tracks which reappear reworked numerous times by a list of artists, marks a return to ‘90s garage mixed with the ska tendencies of ‘70s northern England. Backed by Dublin based Irish Moss Records, the urban jungle preachers mix two opposing themes in their tracks.
The EP opens with the title track, No Rest, featuring MC Fox. The pulsing synths breathe reggae style with their offbeat appearance. The bass walks you through the gritty street environment like a tour guide. The clashing of a smooth grooving bass with the sci fi crunching synth grabs the attention and is sinister in feeling. Lyrically, MC Fox represents the voice of British gang culture. His demand for respect and a promise of no rest for the wicked is haunting. Meanwhile the track moves calmly as though showing it’s seriousness to the message which it promotes. The absence of strong emotion whilst issuing warnings to the enemy is chilling.
The track is then rehashed by Marcus Visionary. The main skeleton of the opening number is repeated with changes to the samples and drum sequences. The rapid percussion screams ‘90s Garage and is almost overwhelming. The reggae simplicity is replaced with a manic energy which contrasts well with the previous creation.
Need Some Rest then completely shifts the focus of its predecessors. MC Parly B injects a mature and tired viewpoint to the equation. His repeated calls for a respite from the crippling and violent environment are mixed with the aural backdrop of the opening track but the sinister nature is removed. The slave theme calls for a social reform. A metaphorical call away from arms is sounded and destruction is replaced with a desire for investment. MC Parly B is strong in his performance. He is unashamedly calling for something more. His weariness is evident throughout and its presence over the energies of the street track is compelling.
The track arrives three more times, remixed by Dirty Dubsters, Balkans hifi, and Danny T & Tradesman. The track is again rehashed with the creative flavours of each artist. The highlight is the warmth of Balkans hifi’s creation. The smooth relaxing reggae draws the track from the urban jungle and slides it closer to the scorching Jamaican sun.
The final track consists of the instrumental structure which underpinned the variations on the EP. Without the Jamaican vocal the aesthetic of the work is shifted. The synths create a visual soundscape of a martian wilderness. The social cynicism is absent and replaced by a sci fi visual akin to Total Recall or Alien. This shift of perspective is fascinating.
The EP provides a sneak peak into the polar factions of an unsettled environment. The feelings of a demand for power and respect are expertly contrasted with exhaustion and experience. The reggae styling mixed with its various offspring locates the work beautifully and the subtle shifts between the tracks keeps the listener focused throughout. This is a riveting work.