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Posted on november 29, 2023

FRESH JUICE: ‘Stepping Out’ by Ouanounou & Gipsyan (Monstart)

Innovative French imprint Monstart celebrate their 20th release with the otherworldly bass score, ‘Stepping Out’, coming from label head Ouanounou & Montpellier producer Gipsyan. Titanic remixes from DJ Polo, DJ Marfox, NKC & Henzo also feature.

Words by Oisín Campbell/ Design by Michael Savage

Buy/ Stream here: https://monstart.bandcamp.com/album/stepping-out

Delectable in sound, testing in nature, ‘Stepping Out’ triumphantly manipulates the vastness of the bass music continuum. Soaking up references from the channels of the UK and US clubbing underworlds, Ouanounou & Gipsyan create a realm of their own on ‘Stepping Out’, attributing heavily to their wealth of experience in the world of clubs and dubs from the past 10+ years.

Since the inception of Monstart back in 2009, backed by Chatte Chatoyante and Ouanounou himself (initially cutting their teeth as promoters), there has always been an open door to explore the endless terrain of clubland.

Low end electronica has often stuck out on the catalogue, becoming more and more prominent towards the end of the 2010’s, before becoming a staple sound of Monstart’s make-up since 2020.

Recent releases from Cardoza, Pura Pura & SHE Spells Doom signify an appreciation for the cosmic capabilities of techno, house & pop, and fusing that sonic range with the organic, harsh grooves found in tribal rhythms and early rave drum patterns.

gipsyan cover pic

(Pictured: Gipsyan)

Stylistically, that process of rawness versus modification has been well versed in both of the artist’s prior works. Take Gipsyan’s Augmented Club Tools Vol. 1, or tracks like Ouanounou’s Quarry as visceral examples of this. There is a transparent weaving of body rhythmic, stocky foundations with more fluorescent pop tones and progressive harmonies.

‘Stepping Out’ represents a mutual appreciation between the two for dancefloors' liberating processes and its physical & sonic possibilities. Ouanounou and Gipsyan showcase a knowledge and set of skills on this work that seems only possible by obtaining from an open mindedness to art, guided by influence and inspiration.

‘Stepping Out’ opens with the pounding trap-cum-footwork construction of ‘Infinite’. A dual production that oscillates in and out of half-time, it maintains a pulsating energy from open to close with its deep surging bass splutters combined with frantic hi-hats & pitched synths.

Gipsyan’s solo effort ‘Ruin’ follows with a minimalistic approach. Channelling a UK techno sound, its glitching 4x4 panels and mechanised low ends tap into a dystopian future depicting an infiltration of over-industrialisation, but also tipping a hat to past influences of deeper techno.

ouanounou cover pic

(Pictured: Ouanounou)

‘Runaway’ brings the pair together again as they calm with warm synth rays before striking hard with warfare bass shots and ridging kicks.

There’s a journey in 808 on ‘Luz’ as Gipsyan stokes a multi-club fire bridging electro with a skippy UK funky rotation, accompanied by a provocative vocal tool. Such a simple track yet the Frenchman manages to yield so much from it.

Ouanounou’s revving hard drum number ‘Carmy’ goes for gasps with a shatter of tribal rolls and ebbing ‘vortex’ style breakdowns that become ignited by intermittent, flanged break beats. Crafted from modular synths and DX7 samples, it pleasantly relies on the variables of both analog and digital.

The final dual strike ‘Aurora’ dances between a playful footwork shuffle and a blistering section of breakcore & four to the floor techno that is kept in check by an idyllic melody that gently pulls the curtain on the EP’s original works.

Perhaps garnering just as much attention as Ouanounou & Gipsyan, the remix package for ‘Stepping Out’ boasts rethinks from DJ Polo, DJ Marfox, NKC & Henzo, who all add their own vibrance to the fold.

Polo takes the EP’s opener ‘Infinite’ into the hard drum zone, utilising whistles and deep rhythm as energy triggers that could be likened to atmospheres at carnival.

DJ Polo cover pic

(Pictured: DJ Polo)

Portugal’s DJ Marfox introduces the weighty ‘Carmy’ to the dance forms of kuduro and karaiko, crafting joyous hypnosis of overriding groove.

Even The Strong founder NKC charms with an inviting UK amapiano spin on ‘Aurora’ before Manchester titan Henzo goes sub-zero on ‘Runaway’, wavering between dub & funky and deftly blurring the lines between the two genres lines as he so often does

‘Stepping Out’ is a production that must be revered in 2023. A working of sheer electronic innovation, Ouanounou & Gipsyan shed light on the future of Monstart whilst also strongly alluding to both the label’s and their own growingly rich past.

For Ouanounou, ‘Stepping Out’ is “a complete drawing on the many influences that have shaped his artistic identity. It is an EP made for clubs and dancefloors, which required a lot of introspection and artistic bias to bring to life”.

Gipsyan describes the end product as “warlike & dynamic” and hailing both Monstart & Ouanounou alike for their influence on his artistic motives as well as the common ground he has been able to find with them as an artist.

The release is available in full via Bandcamp with limited run on 12” available containing a secret bonus track on the wax: https://monstart.bandcamp.com/album/stepping-out

Discover the extended Monstart catalogue here: https://monstart.bandcamp.com/music