'90s UK garage from 2021 Brazil.
From Amen breaks and eskibeats to rave sirens and MC samples, CESRV takes bits and bobs of UK dance music and puts them together like puzzle pieces. The opening track, "Finesse," kicks in with a chord stab that reminds me of Inner City's "Big Fun." But it takes no more than four bars for a gnarly vocal sample to appear, taking the track down a road of crunchy snares, echoing hi-hats and syncopated kick drums, a rollicking arrangement that holds together in spite of itself. It's the same on "I Kno," a speed garage exercise with a brief blast of breakbeats.
CESRV sounds best when he references the rougher side of UK garage, touching on the sounds that would evolve into grime and dubstep. The eerie strings of "Jungletek" and the wobbling buzz of "Sirens" are the highlights, getting their message across with clever melodies and gut-punching sub-bass instead of words. But he's still good with a sample, closing the EP with "Soundbwoy Champion," which features samples from Jamaican MCs and The Sugar Hill Gang's "Rapper's Delight."
The pastiche nature of "Soundbwoy Champion" also highlights the risk of this kind of heart-on-sleeve homage. Some of the EP's tracks might have made the cut on a late-'90s Tuff Jam compilation, which is both a compliment and a criticism. But what Soundbwoy may lack in originality, it makes up for in execution and feeling. Pierri didn't come up during the heyday of pirate radio and UK garage, but from the way he expresses himself on this EP, you might be fooled into thinking otherwise.