Aside from their hefty, crunchy dancefloor rhythms that skirt the boundaries of neurofunk, Hybrid Theory have also made a name for themselves with their solid-since-2010 label, Four40 Records. Having just celebrated their ten-year anniversary, the imprint releases more tracks per month than pretty much any other D&B label active today. The duo have a very down-low, grassroots approach to A&R, it seems, releasing who they want, when they want.
It’s thus quite surprising that Hybrid Theory is partnering with Korsakov Music on their newest singles, two collabs with brand-new Bristol-by-way-of-Southwestern UK artist, I.C.U. As close as one can get on the European continent to a pop D&B label, it would have been interesting to be a fly on the wall in that meeting. That said, the dancefloor vibes of “Sick” and “Burn” are undeniable and Korsakov Music has been known to do some genre-bending of its own, so for this release it’s pretty clear the tracks are well-suited for the Dutch imprint.
In true grassroots, Hybrid Theory style, the Birmingham boys have discovered and brought up a new artist from nearby called I.C.U on “Sick” and “Burn.” With his first release on Gorilla Warfare a well-plotted and melodic dancefloor joint called “Hush Hush,” it’s likely that’s how Hybrid Theory found him as they’ve also got recent and upcoming tracks on the Deekline and Ed Solo-headed label. With a speed and flow to their work in common, it seems inevitable, however, that these two artists would cross paths.
“Burn” featuring another up-and-comer, vocalist Nehanda, and its b-side “Sick” seem like a perfect melding of Hybrid Theory and I.C.U’s styles (at lease from what we know so far). “Sick” rides the harder edge of dancefloor and has a lovely OG neurofunk roll to its beat. The artists clearly drew on the old school in general for this one, as “Sick” would fit in at any 1998-2001 rave just as much as a modern festival. There’s that Hybrid Theory grassroots magic again: never relinquish the rolling beat and intelligent bass synth.
Our premiere track, the somehow even more ravey “Burn” has a similar structure both in terms of the beat structure and that crunchy bass synth. It’s made more ravey, in part, by Nehanda’s strong vocals which both intro and break the track. Complimenting that powerful vox are more blown out yet higher pitched synths that form a secondary melody as the sound design leans towards cinematic. It’s clear the strengths of both artists really shine and compliment each other on this track.
“Burn” will likely be another track from Korsakov Music that fans won’t be able to escape on the dancefloor this season, but why would you want to? Expertly composed and easily recognizable thanks to Nehanda’s vocals and those synths, Hybrid Theory and I.C.U’s “Burn” and its sister track “Sick” are the perfect marriage of classic and new, underground and big room. No doubt these track will burning up a dancefloor near you soon.
“Burn” and “Sick” drop on Korsakov music this Friday, November 19. Pre-order here.