The first release on Deadboy's label, Total Fantasy Records, comes courtesy of Bone Squad. They deliver a varied EP consisting of one hardcore, one bashment and two grime tracks. These days it's quite easy to feel jaded when listening to new grime, especially when the first track on the EP samples “Ice Rink” so blatantly. But Skal and Bones is a release so well produced, that captures a mood and carries it so effectively through genre barriers that the listener is convinced that this isn't another soulless pastiche, but a great work in it's own right.
The opening track "Skal & Bones" is the first grime cut. It's a minimal composition with a deep sub, a haunting synth and reverberant keys that work to create a dark atmosphere drenched in dread. The hardcore track "Valkyrie" maintains this atmosphere effectively, coupling a strikingly out of tune pad first with a ravey synth lead, then with an arpeggiated flute.
Personally, it's the second grime track on the EP, "Vvinter", that impresses me the most. Clearly Ruff Sqwad influenced, Vvinter is built around a beautifully simple cello riff, that comes in and out throughout the track. A deep sub-cum-atmospheric pad provides the low end while intermittent church bells and sirens contribute to the heavy, sinister character. "Danskhall" is the final track from the EP and, if I'm completely honest, a bit of a black sheep. Fundamentally bashment in terms of sounds and rhythms, it seems to lack bashment's playfulness and dance-ability (to be expected given the rest of the EP) which gives it a slightly lacklustre feel. However it's not a bad track, the bass hits hard on a system, the percussion is impeccably programmed and the FX are exactly what you'd want from a track like this.
All in all I really do feel that this is a fantastic release, a nod to the past without ever feeling out-dated. An exciting start to Total Fantasy Records, a label I look forward to hearing more from.