The 7″ debut x2 from Top Smile Records, run by High Smile Hifi, is all about pairing strictly-digital riddims with engaging vocal turns. The clean production is consistent with prior tracks and dubplates from the Swiss trio, whose past collaborations include tunes with Daddy Freddy, General Levy, Ranking Joe, and – for their first (digital-only) release “Another Drive-By Shooting” – Sammy Gold.
“My Story” lets the pulsating bass lead, with S’Kaya singing an autobiographical tale of honesty and love atop it. Matching the riddim nicely, the up-and-coming French MC is clearly in command on the mic, switching styles between verse and chorus while maintaining an entrancing tone. Digital lovers rock is a tricky blend, since the romantic leanings shouldn’t get lost amidst the strength of the instrumentation, a balance which is successfully maintained here.
Speng Bond takes on a slightly sparser 80s-era instrumental with ample innuendo and boasting, referencing Marley – ‘if you a big tree, then me are the small axe’ – and Million Stylez – ‘Miss Fatty Fatty’ – along the way. By taking advantage of 001’s classic UK deejay approach, with “Dilly Dally” High Smile have crafted a tune that feels retro while still sounding modern.
With versions on the reverse, these 7-inches both fully showcase the still-relevant influence of early Roland and Casio hardware. “Sleng Teng” may have been first, as well as the most versioned, but there’s clearly more digital grooves to be discovered…