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First Listen: Bok Bok, 'Your Charizmatic Self'

Bok Bok's new EP, <em>Your Charizmatic Self</em>, comes out May 25.
Courtesy of the artist
Bok Bok's new EP, Your Charizmatic Self, comes out May 25.

Four years ago, a small U.K. label forced listeners to rethink what we call dance music. Night Slugs, co-founded by Alex Sushon (a.k.a. Bok Bok) and James Connelly (L-Vis 1990), coalesced around the pair's monthly London gig of the same name, a party that gradually fused house music and grime into a separate hybrid. Fans and critics weren't sure what to call this phase of the hardcore continuum, so they latched on to its most distinguishing feature: bass.

Bok Bok and his like-minded cohorts owned 2010, figuratively speaking. Night Slugs released hit after underground hit, beginning with Mosca's "Square One" and culminating in Girl Unit's modern classic "Wut." The next year wasn't so shabby, either: Bok Bok himself led the way with the grime hit "Silo Pass," and the label spawned a kid-sister imprint in Brooklyn called Fade to Mind.

In the years since, it's been easy to hear Bok Bok's live DJ sets on sites like Rinse.fm and Boiler Room, but official releases have been scarce. That's what makes Your Charizmatic Self kind of an event.

The seven-track EP leads off with one of the breakthrough voices of 2013, Kelela. The cutting-edge R&B singer included two Bok Bok productions on her debut album, Cut 4 Me, and shines here in "Melba's Call," which is getting buzz in the British press as a possible song of the summer. The rest of Your Charizmatic Self finds Bok Bok experimenting with what he calls R&G — Rhythm & Grime — with three stuttering slabs of funk, two chilled-out interludes and an instrumental version of "Melba's Call."

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