The cover of Sub.Culture's 2016 compilation
Earlier this summer, Sub.Culture
quietly released a singles collection — so quietly that the party celebrating the new work was a RSVP-only, secret-location-type joint. But as the effort’s liner notes say “the best things in life are free,” so group leaders Josh Lucio (Four Hands), Aaron Peña and Ernest Gonzalez have posted the release gratis on their Bandcamp
From touches of juke and bass to the pervasive sound of house, the comp finds Sub.Culture with a tip-top bill of health, confirming the team’ status as a collection of San Antonio’s brightest dance producers and electronic artists. TEFNYK
opens up with the heavy-hitting “Kings,” cutting a vocal sample until it shreds into rhythm. When it threatens to get a little one-dimensional, a light, oscillating number comes in to carry us into the fade.
Four Hands continues with the two-chord delivery of “Strings.” Evoking the harmonic simplicity and rhythmic cluster-bombing of DJ Rashad, Four Hands
puts his drum loops to work and OT, with just enough space for the whole thing to breath. Later, Mexicans with Guns
delivers a standout track in “Canto I (Ninos).” MWG — the pen name of Ernest Gonzalez, a stalwart of SA electronic music — pulls off a tune that sounds like a Sugar Plum Fairy descending melody cut into a trap beat, with the texture of an underground Mario level.
Last we checked in with Sub.Culture, the collective was in a nascent state, even if its members were well into their careers. A year later, the team has released a wonderfully cohesive rundown. Listening through a singles collection can be a schizophrenic experience, but the group has glued together its influences and styles without showing any of the cracks. Due to the solitary nature of the game, sometimes it can be tough to hear the progress of a producer, compared to a more live art of an instrumental band. With Sub.Culture’s 2016 comp, the fruits of the group’s “adventures in low frequencies” are laid on the table. And they taste pretty good.