I know I shouldn’t be doing this. After all, it was only ten days ago that I was lauding London electronic quartet Rudimental with having produced the best song of 2012. But I just can’t help myself. I’ve spent the better part of the five hours it’s taken to fly across the international dateline exploring the depths of my music library in an attempt to escape the inevitable call of ‘Hell Could Freeze’ but, one beef ragu, mash potato and cookies and cream mousse, one snotty kid sneezing all over me during ‘The Artist’ and dozens of songs later, I feel that familiar, Rudimental you might say, gravitational pull emanating from a track by the London band. ‘Hell Could Freeze’, like almost every track I’ve come across by the outfit, has hooked me within a couple of listens. And no amount of mucus, mousse or mash is going to distract me from bobbing my head ridiculously on a packed 747 to the smooth sounds of this tune.
To date, the Rudimental tracks that I’ve heard have fallen into one of two camps. There is the ‘Feel The Love‘/’‘ camp which boasts dubstep-made-mainstream stylings and tends to feature up-and-coming vocalist John Newman whose neo-soul crooning has come to redefine pop sensibilities over the last year. Then there is the ‘Spoons‘ camp: slower, more nuanced tracks that, with sequenced vocals and looped motifs, pay tribute to the post-dubstep movement, taking the vibe of Jessie Ware, SBTRKT and co and giving it the Rudimental once over. Which, going on the group’s track record to date, has been synonymous with making it sound unbelievable. ‘Hell Could Freeze’ doesn’t fit anywhere in this taxonomy. For one, we don’t get Newman or even MNEK on this track but Virgina rapper Angel Haze bolstered by a partially-distorted vocalist on hook duties. Moreover, the track might be more personal than any the band have released to date (or Angel Haze’s hugely impressive delivery just makes it seem that way). With ‘Hell Could Freeze’, Rudimental effectively chart the territory that lies between their uber-catchy chart hits and their more low-tempo musings. The result is proof that these guys have some sort of Midas touch complex going on.
I am often at a loss to describe in technical terms what is happening in songs. Brother J or Z will frequently get the ‘What is this kind of X called?’ question fired at them and, happily, indulge an uneducated fool. At 35,000 feet, I’m not quite able to ask them about the beat that comes in, skittering across the back of a bar like so many drunken hooligans, and what it’s called. When I played this track for Brother Z, he mentioned that Rudimental often use this kind of beat. Whatever it is, all I know is that it is astoundingly effective. Coupled with Angel Haze’s blistering delivery (Azealia Banks with more conviction, less sleaze), the beat would have been enough for me. The contrast between the unidentified voice singing the namesake refrain and Haze’s ‘We go up, and down’ instructional is what really gets me. What impresses me about Rudimental is that, unlike so many other artists jostling for space in the genre, they don’t feel it necessary to crowd their songs with big ticket items. This track propels itself on the sheer commitment of Haze and the wisdom of Rudimental to let her breathe on the beat. Nothing about it is particularly revolutionary and you might not remember any distinct element of the song. But when a song lingers with you two films down the track, even under threat of all-out sinus-sniper attack, you know it’s a keeper.
Rudimental – Hell Could Freeze Ft. Angel Haze