Review: Chaos In The Cbd – Midnight In Peckham


At a time when ‘gentrification’ is the word of the decade, the competition between London boroughs feels a bit like a dog-eat-dog deathmatch combined with capture the flag – where did the community go? Despite postcode wars pretty much fizzing out of fashion, there is still territory to lay claim to in the capital’s increasingly overloaded landscape – something that label Rhythm Section have managed to rep rather well in the deep south.  

Eight EPs down the line, it seems Rhythm Section has caught Chaos in the CBD in the right place, at the right time – musically and geographically. That is to say by most standards this is a mature record that hits all the right jazzy notes – a bit like when your younger sibling finally catches on to Miles Davis. And in Peckham, the New Zealanders have not only found themselves a new home from home, but also a stronghold of underground music to rival the hordes to the east. 

'Trust is Key' is a real slow-burner of an opener. “We trust each other” are the sampled words, yet ironically there is an air of suspicion about the track that arises from the percussive urgency and a sly serpentine piano riff that weaves in and out of the texture.

Next up, 'Observe' drops a similar late-night vibe, but the addition of staccato stabs in the piano chords creates a livelier feel. There is a lightness of touch to the keys that provides a humorous contrast to the previous track, and it’s held together by an almost garage hop-and-skip tempo. 

What follows is the record’s most contemplative track, 'Midnight in Peckham'. It deploys a trumpet line in the sort of fail-proof formula for a blissed out summery affair – much like Skream did to great effect on Summer Dreams – constructing a bleary, yet serene soundscape with an improvised melody that doesn’t overdo it, making this track the most timeless of the lot.

'Luxury Motivation' goes down a similar route introducing a dusty tape recording, before the final track 'Common Unity' – featuring Archie Pelago, a master in painting swirly ripples of impressionist watercolour notes. A bright snare takes the song to a new level of optimism as the texture creaks back and forth into another realm away from 4/4. (Unfortunately for vinyl-lovers the final track is only available digitally)

Midnight in Peckham manages to comprise a complementary collection of five tracks, something that isn’t so easy to capture on one record. It makes for a finely poised offering from Chaos in the CBD, and sees Rhythm Section capturing the flag for South London once more.

Midnight In Peckham is out on 24th August via Rhythm Section International – pre-order your copy here.