Review: We're not sure who Leftlow is/are but anything with the System stamp of approval passes all necessary filters. Especially when the lead track whisks you straight back to 2006 with the squelchiest hook this side of "Cluedub"'s dub dungeon and a sub grumpier than thunder. "Boa" is a little more contemporary in its minimal Rotterdam style. Strange, stripped back and sprung with a peculiar bounce that's as addictive as it is trippy, with its soft, subtle kick it's a genuinely unique piece of 140 craft. For good measure Skeptical swings by for a knock out remix of "Cluedub" where even more flabby low end gets baked in the mix. Don't get left out.
Review: Emergent chameleons Letherette are making quite a splash following their initial appearances on Ho Tep and Brownswood, and they deliver their first EP for Ninja Tune with an assured tone to their hybrid sound. At times sounding positively housey and at others locked into a fractured kind of groove, the overwhelming feeling is one of savvy pop music that reaches for all the right kind of signifiers to hold weight with the underground without fearing to embrace song structures and brief moments of anthemic bombast. There is a largely downtempo feel to Featurette even when the tracks are a touch more lively, but it binds the EP together smartly to offer a cohesive group that appeal on many different levels.
Review: Not to be confused with Young Echo associates Jabu, the unrelated Lord Jabu is a 20-something producer with one previous release to his name. According to Albion Collective, his latest EP "synthesizes solid state trap with 64-bit dream-ware". We're not quite sure what that means, but opener "Treehead" is a distorted and mind-altering blend of lo-fi chip-tune melodies, mangled ice cream van chimes, bowel-bothering bass and rumbling post-grime dubstep beats. His passion for Sinclair Spectrum synth sounds is further explored on the flip, first on the trap style shuffle of "Folklore" and then via the pleasingly tuneful - if cracked and twisted - closing cut "Yagoda".
Review: The mysterious Macker returns to the scene of the crime. Previously spotted shaking up the dancefloor two years ago on a similarly anonymous release, here he's back and armed with more sonic treacle. Dark, thick, swampy with just the right amount of drone, "Faust" is a cathedral creeper that's weighted by insanely heavy kicks while "Isolation" takes us even deeper down Macker's rabbit hole with grainy depth charge bass plucks, samurai samples and that crucial overall sensation of a cosy graveyard picnic somewhere on another planet. Crucial; don't slack on the Mack.
Review: Hyperdub kick off the vinyl side to their ten-year celebrations with this weighty four-tracker from some of the leading lights from the label's story. Mala is in a strident mood with "Expected, Level 10" carrying through that extra touch of melody from the Mala In Cuba LP. DVA cuts loose with the leftfield scattershot groove of "Technical Difficulties", reveling in tonal experimentation and jagged rhythmic flair to a stunning end. Still locked into the sci-fi trap tangent that characterised Severant, Kuedo turns out the haunting "Mtzpn" and Helix pops up for a remix of Kode9's "Xingfu Lu" that strips down to bare essentials with a little starlit soul rubbed into the framework.
Review: Last spotted on Encrypted's Codedinsound V/A album in 2017, Denver's Malleus returns with his first full EP for the label. If you've been following his sounds on the likes of Gourmet Beats and Foundation Audio, you'll know exactly what's up here; swampy, otherworldly textures, trippy aesthetics, warped and weirded out sound designs. "Damien" takes the lead with demonic graveyard arpeggios and pressurised kicks while "Dragging The Lake" is swampy, grotty and gloopy in consistency but poignant and barbed in emotional energy. For maximum wonk jump on "Grinn" while militant nightmare heads should jump straight onto the finale "To Kiss The Witch's Flesh". Filth.
Review: Encrypted follow up Mesck's incendiary "ENV020" with two warped and woozy cuts from the enigmatic Manta. "It Lurks" switches the standard MC vocal for a crow screech and spoken word from the devil himself. Gloopy and swampy, this will lock your floor down in slo-mo like gorilla glue. "Zealot" takes us even deeper into the darkness with a wonky off-beat kick palpitations and big graveyard washes lapping over the top. It lurks, it lives, it bangs... The devil's music never sounded so good.
Review: Longstanding Innamind representative Mikael sparks up our inner freaks once more with two system-primed sub smashers. "Wildfire" see-saws on a pivot-like atonal riff over a lolloping sub/kick flow and big splash rimshots while "Lintumies" is a spacier jam where stretched outer-space aesthetics play games with your head and the bass keeps kicking you out of orbit.
Review: For their debut 12", freshly minted label Reflektion Tapes has pulled off something of a coup by signing up Von D, a storied producer who has released killer material on such imprints as Apron, Trojan Audio, Sub Freq and Black Acre. On this outing, the Frenchman showcases a pair of collaborative tracks. On the A you'll find "Dub Compulsion", a deliciously soulful, organic sounding hook-up with Deep Medi and Eglo sort Mizz Beats. While the crispy beats and bassline and suitably heavy, it's the wavering vocal samples and sparkling keys that really catch the ear. Former Diagrams man Mr Lager lends a hand on side two's "Some Other Place", a deep space fusion of delay-laden percussion hits, ultra-deep bass and swirling, intergalactic atmospherics.
Review: Dirty in both name and delivery, Mr K offers up two tracks of deep, low-slung, venue-rattling dubstep that pays homage to the formative half-time years before people started using words like 'post' and 'not' to try and define the genre's development. Skankers of the world unite, if you catch the drift. 'Ol Dirty' threatens to ruin subs with its reverb'd lows and loose, easy going drums, reminding us of why dubstep should start with dub. 'Forever' is a more complex outing, smoky piano keys lolling over the top of a lazy rhythm, top end brass stabs jazzing things up before slow and sexy wind adds to the impressive musicality. Throw in a timeless spoken word sample and the result is an accomplished piece that'll sound equally intoxicating at home, in your headphones or setting late evening vibes.
Review: As a DJ, promoter and producer, Version boss Orson has been championing dubstep in Germany longer than almost anyone else (fact: he made his production debut way back in 2010!). These days he's an established figure internationally, releasing music that's every bit as good as that made by the sound's British pioneers. "Life Gamble", which opens his latest EP, is something of a peach. Built around a headline grabbing, digi-dub style bassline, the track is deep, dreamy and melodious, with ambient sound washes offering a neat contrast to his ricocheting dubstep beats and blazed audio textures. Flipside "12:09", meanwhile, is a far more straightforward proposition, with the German bass-head serving up an intoxicating dancefloor stepper rich in stabbing bass and echoing electronics.
Review: There seems to be a bit of a narrative here on Phrex's second Dubtopia release. Previously, Version bossman Orson had given us "Life Gamble". Now he's on his "Last Chance", and it's every bit as foreboding as you'd expect the final roll of the dice to be - menacing, pensive and lined with venomous acid. Bern's Phrex is experiencing a similar situation; while he previously told us about "Vectors In The Sky", he's now warning us of "Colliding Clouds" to the tune of quivering, tightly weaved top lines, trippy dub echoes and loose soft drums underpinned by a voluptuous rolling sub groove.
Review: He's back... Riding on the crest of his near-majestic collaboration with Subscape for UKF's UKF10 series this spring The Others flips the switch once again with two dark designs on the consistently on-point Sentry. Revealing much ruff corners of his underbelly, we kick off with "Shaolin", a track that's powered by agruff sandpaper funk bassline and warped, skewed Japanese strings. It's followed by "Feedback" where every shade of The Others we love is whipped up in a blender; an epic intro, a gritty bassline, off-beat funk and sudden shards of light breaking through as the track progresses. After a few release-light years, it seems The Others has really and truly got the bug again. More please.
Review: Callum "Paleman" Lee is one of Swamp 81's most decorated artists, having released a string of well-regarded 12" singles for the hyped, bass-obsessed imprint. Yrs Ago is his third EP for the label's 81 offshoot, and sees him joining the dots between techno, post-dubstep bass music, and angular electronica. The title track sets the tone, with robotic voices, creepy electronics and smooth sub-bass riding a metallic, broken techno groove. Flipside "Animus" is a marginally more melodic affair, with spacey chords and bubbling arpeggio lines riding a punchy electro rhythm. Both tracks are naturally rather heavy, and undoubtedly amongst the producer's strongest work to date.
Review: Two massive Pinch classics taken on by the mighty Kromestar; need we say more? Pinch's 2010 speaker shredder "The Boxer" gets an absolute fouling with epic distortion on the bass and swaggering drums. It's so heavy it's been on dub for at least two years. Flip for Kromestar's take on Pinch's 2011 Deep Medi murker "Swish" as it's given a bullet proof suit of armour ready for any militant war scenario. Both absolutely destroy the dance.
Review: Newcomer Primer crash lands onto planet Rarefied with four beguiling fusions. "Tal" is an off-beat mystic brew that flexes in and out of an Indian vocal with mesmerising effect, "Signals" rolls off a slippery electroid drum arrangement with just the right levels of cosmicity while "Make Contact" is a cascade of chimes and a lush loosely hewn two-step. An untitled track closes the show with an overwhelming hurricane of reverse textures and sludgy drama. Connection made.
Review: Following their beguiling "Signals" EP, enigmatic Primer returns to Rarefied with four more trips. With its desert sand storm textures and staccato vocal clip, "Nowhere And Nothing" isn't quite as bleak as it sounds, it's actually super warm and intense. The same can be said for "Drowned"; while sombre and introspective, the dub sounds and elements are buoyant and eventually rise into something pretty hopeful after the second drop. "Tal (part 2)" provides closure for those of us who are still nursing sore minds from "Tal (part 1)" on Primer's debut release as it uses the same mystic elements to wind down the chaos into a subtle woozy brew. Speaking of woozy, "I Had A Faraway Dream" brings us back home with a beautifully sleepy harp, stumbling kicks and a vocal that seems to melt into itself. Singular. No one's doing it like Primer.
Review: In the words of Mystik himself... This has been a long time coming. The shimmering chords and heavy rolls of "Misty In Roots" were written between the two antipodean modern day dub dons years ago but it's remained on dub until now. It's back by two more heavy system testers; "Sabu" takes a deep breath before coiling up with percussion then springing into action when the kicks skip in. "2 Steps Backwards" takes more of a trad dub stance with swaggering spaced out beats and a delicious array of old school FX work in the mix. Misty in roots; clear in message.
Review: Following a whole run of releases on labels such as Encrypted, Version Collective and Deep Dark & Dangerous, Dutch darksmith Ramsez makes his debut on Jack Sparrow's Navy Cut. He does so with three stark blueprints; "Big Boi" backs up its badman title with a savage drill-like bassline and some of the wooziest beats he's crafted to date, "Swinger Club" gets a little sweary over deep space beats and a bassline that breathes while "Talk Crime" ends things on a pranged note as dissonant textures whip up deep mists and the bassline warps, melts and eventually combusts before your very ears. The only crime to talk of here would be to sleep on this...
Review: Scrub A Dub dub, two men in a tub. They're called Rapture 4D and newcomer Ruda and they're making some pretty stinking noises. "Hubble Flow Dub" transmits messages to the furthest corners of the cosmic over a rumpy-pumpy bass riff while "Left Hand Path" celebrates all the southpaws of the land with an eerie theramin-led bleep mosaic. Flip for two Rapture originals as "Skylab" takes us right down under the earth's crust with its swampy, gloopy flow and textures and "Kosmos Redshift" closes us on a freaky space jazz trip. Scrub's up!
Review: Reso returns to his 140 roots with this obscene four track stack of uncut sludgy gully on Albion. Three originals, one killer remix, it all kicks off with the treacle-like dollops of bass on "Focus Inwards" before we slide woozily into the thick prang soup of "Smashed Up" and get fast tracked to Hades HQ on an industrial lift called "The Essence". Throw in a divine rolling refix from TMSV and you've got one of Albion's strongest plates right here (and considering the earthquakes levels of Taiko's release last year, that's saying something!) Time for some deep focus.
Review: Rising 140 sculptor Samba proudly presents his own label 26.RAIN. Following a whole string of heavily supported releases on the likes of System Music, Deep, Dark & Dangerous and Encrypted, the label is a new outlet for a fresh synth-led fusion style he's been developing gradually. Deep, musical, not shy of an 808 or a two-step or two, there's a touch of UKG, wave and trap deep across both sides. "Acecloud" is the big neon dreamer of the duo while "Cookies" crumbles a little more delicately and introspectively. An excellent launch release, we're saving our rainy day money for 002.
Review: Fragrant frequencies from New Zealand: newcomer Scent makes his official 12" debut on soundsystem celebrating Aussie imprint Modern Hypnosis with two beguiling modern dub cuts. First up is the pneumatic stamper "Trax" where the prominent beat patterns are offset by a slightly off beat warped stab to create a fun but focused marching sensation. "Just A Dream" plays the consummate foil as Scent takes us much deeper into his psyche by way of slo-mo sci-fi drums and swooning, star gazing chords. Beautiful.
Review: Since delivering his first 12" four years ago, Theo Bennett AKA Sepia has become once of the most celebrated producers on the deep dubstep underground, delivering singles for Gourmet Beats and Infernal Sounds - amongst others - that push the style's accepted boundaries. His first Wheel and Deal outing ticks similar boxes. He begins by encasing crunchy beats and heavy sub-bass in chiming music box melodies on "Last Chance Saloon", before doffing a cap to grime on the intoxicating, near tropical heaviness of "Kira". Turn to side B for inspired Koma collaboration "Embalment" - a stuttering, shuffling treat rich in atmospheric chords and ear-pleasing melodies - and the more dub-wise pressure of closer "Frequency".