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".
Review: Rarefied bring Sibla & Zygos together on this positively stinking piece of wax. Neither party a stranger to the label, and both armed with a particularly prominent sense of wonk and grit, the result is a triptych of grizzlers that will melt the pants of every member in the dance. "The Path" is pure electricity whomping back and forth, oozing over the kicks. "Haunted" is pure static, rusty chimes and occasional screams before the toxic bassline bites its way into the blend a little later than usual. "Sigil" closes the show with more of a rolling groove, hypnotic vocals and more beautifully pranged out textures. Rarefied bang on the money once again.
Review: Up there with Swindle and Joker, dubstep's funkiest OG Silkie returns to Deep Medi with three more sublime grooves. Broken, cheery, just a little cheeky and swooning with switches, each of these cuts rattles and bashes with Silkie's signature west- coast-meets-UKG-in-a-long-dark-Croydon-tunnel melting pot: "Impervious" flips from orchestral epic to dreamy flutters before dropping into 80s horn funk with mischief while "Reevea" is Silkie in classic "Poltergeist" mode. Finally "Egyptian March" is straight out of Indiana Jones. A jittering snake charmer that has you going from nought to rolling under stone doors and grabbing your hat in 10 seconds. Silkie you absolute don.
Review: Don't be fooled by the title; this ain't no sampler from Skeppy's fantastic debut album Enjoy This Trip, these are two fresh new tracks that remind us the Exit artist depths and versatility. His first 140 jams in a while, "Paper House" shudders under the weight of DRS's crystaline poetry while "Nebula" shoots us to the edge of the sub bass cosmos on a rocket made of spacious, skippy beats and shows us no way of returning home. It's the trip that keeps on giving...
Review: Volume Six of Tempa Allstars collects contributions from some of the underground music scene's pioneers and leading lights Skream. "Rollin' Kicks" begins the EP with a tapping drumbeat and a Breakage hued sonic palette (circa "Open Up") which is a million miles away from Magnetic Man. D&B-turned-dubstep minimalist Icicle steps up with "Anything". Crisp, acerbic breaks feature heavily, perfectly calculated beats and a futuristic touch. Falty DL adds a funky touch with "Sunday" as chirpy bleeps and bellows of bass underpin the fidgeting rhythms here, with notable sunny, upbeat vibes in the synth work. Benga injects a dose of humour with the ticking percussive lisp and robotic chant of "I Come From London" driving things along into a hypnotic state of sentiency. SBTRKTs "Sleep In Tokyo" is all broken, funked up beats, warm keys and delicately textured rhythms. Alix Perez brings the EP to a close with "Metric". Deep, atmospheric crackling, crisp SFX and rumbling subs roll along with dark menace. A superb finale to one of the finest releases in the Tempa Allstars series so far.
Review: Bristol's Temple Of Sound emerges with an inaugural release by Kent based DJ Tom Wood aka Sub Basics. Exploring some of the deepest strains of dubstep on the Shipment EP featuring brooding sound design and skillful execution of tension and suspense throughout. From the unsettling fever dream of the title track, the hypnotic freefall of "Ancient Eyez" where we start to hear some good old fashioned bass wobble for good measure. Finally on the flip we have "Keep It Moving" a fervent polyrhythmic workout that reaches near tribal moments.
Review: Torsten Profrock’s T++ project has continually spread its wings since conception in 2005. Championed by fans of techno, dubstep, experimental and drum & bass alike, his latest EP for Honest Jons (and rumoured to be his last under this monkier) showcases the amalgamation of styles and sounds that has earnt the German such a far reaching fanbase.
If it does prove to be the final T++ release ever, then the alias will have left us with the most expressive and energetic of his works. Adding a real sense of personality, Profrock unearthed a handful of samples of the singer and ndingidi player Ssekinomu, recorded in East Africa in the 1930s and 40s in the label’s vaults for this release. Skilfully, the producer works these snippets into the complex rhythm structures, giving his music a human touch that has never been seen before. Profrock looks to the radical fringe of UK garage for the snapping 2 step vibe in these rhythms that remain central to all four tracks on the EP. This results in a clutch of tracks that take on an immensely tribal and subconsciously innate feel. They morph new structures from the forms of 2 step, techno and drum & bass around which Profrock wraps twisted FX and weighty sub bass to create one whole, throbbing organism. So with quite possibly his final release, T++ leaves us, rather fittingly, with a record that sounds at once both ancient and modern. It has a totally unique tone, like a form of tribal language that can only speak to and be understood by today’s culture through these sub-heavy, atmospheric sounds.
Review: There's no stopping this American trio right now; after a massive year of ugly thumpers on the likes of Dank & Dirty Dubz, Chestplate and Artikal, they return to DUPLOC for another EP, this time fully vinylised and loaded with two VIPs of their label debut last year. "Forest Temple" is a real foundation shaker where the subs do all the talking and the eerie textures ripple through the spaces while "Up Up" is just a straight up stinker with full wobbles and teeth gnashing filth. Flip for two crucial VIPs as "Verify Me" and "Yellow & Grey" are given the most dapper go-gullier-stripes you ever did hear. Sound as a pound.
Review: Most recently spotted on Foundation Audio's digital arm collaborating on Krook's EP, LA's Tetrad switches lanes to the label's vinyl league with three outstanding system slugs. "Shakuhachi" sets the tone with a rounded unhurried bounce that ploughs though any scoops like lava. It's joined by the similarly flabby bass-slapped "Samos" where there's less of a bass melody but these epic trippy trails coming off each sub. Finally, "MIC" closes on a slightly cosmic-yet-barbed touch as dreamy arpeggios wrap around thick treacle subs and some dark politic messages. Serious bass integrity.
Review: Following up great releases by EVA808, Epoch and V.I.V.E.K, American bass imprint Innamind returns with some deep dubstep - courtesy of Utrecht's Tomas Roels, better known to us as TMSV. Moody low-end pulsations permeate the powerful opener "No Sleep", while "Temple" gets off on a more uplifting vibe with its ethereal pads, creative rhythm arrangements and hypnotic melodies. Lastly on the flip, "Maniac Mansion" proudly wears its U.K. influence on its sleeve. Following up great releases for labels like Cosmic Bridge. Artikal Music and Black Box, Roels is, well - on a roll!
Review: It's finally here... V.I.V.E.K launches a brand new label and, as the title suggests, it's something a little different to the deep 140 piledrivers his System Sound is known for. Two rootsical excursions and two killer versions, this is the sound of the System champion bringing things back to the source. The title track (featuring longstanding System MC Dego Rankin) is a warm dub jam, spaced for good measure. Flip for "Galactic" as V.I.V.E.K flings us further east on a ship powered by Oriental strings and another rolling dub groove that's designed to make rigs purr. Beautiful.
Firm & Strong (feat Murray Man & Ganja Tree - Disco mix) (7:07)
Firm & Dub (3:35)
Strong Dub (3:32)
Review: Get comfortable, light something fragrant and settle in for the night: Von D and Moresounds are back with more dub-wise dancefloor selections. Ragga/dancehall MCs Murray Man and Ganja Tree star on headline attraction "Firm & Strong (Disco Mix)", a hot-stepping, dub-fuelled dancefloor romp that sits somewhere between deep dubstep and the 4/4 stomp of UK steppas. The track's dancefloor dub roots are explored further on "Firm & Dub", whose ricocheting, delay-heavy musical flourishes ride an even tougher variation of the duo's killer groove. "Strong Dub" is, as the title suggests, an even wilder and more high tempo dub style revision that sounds like a mid '90s Iration Steppas jam.
Review: If every record in The Weevil Neighbourhood acts as a location or hub within its community, this is the town hall. The nucleus from which all information and threads of consistency spread, it's where it began: 2011 with two robust, technoid dubby fusions that owe as much to Croydon as they do Detroit. The two came as a whole and have remained both in demand and breath-taking ever since. Still sounding contemporary and fresh, this is a timely reissue of a timeless release.
Review: White Peach / Fent Plates bossman Zha returns with another delicious naan platter. "Mumbai" is like a spicy roti - crisp in its flavour, a pepper packing punch in the twisted shehnai blasts and scorched bass grunts. "The Tale Of She" is more of a puran poli. Deep, sweet flavours but don't think you won't have anything to chew or digest; there's a lingering wholesomeness running through the whole dish. Best served warm and with friends.
Review: Woof! Hyperdub bring together two of the most recognisable and enigmatic artists of recent times on this 10", as Zomby and Burial square down ahead of the former's new album for the label. Zomby's Ultra LP is undoubtedly one of this year's most anticipated albums and "Sweetz" suggests it may be a very moody affair indeed. Whilst rooted in UK dance, Zomby and Burial do look elsewhere for inspiration too. Just under seven minutes long, "Sweetz" veers through various sub-heavy soundscapes with intermittent rhythmic patters and a distinctive looped vocal sample whose pitch changes with dramatic effect.
Review: It's been a great year for Belgian basssmith Zygos. Having kicked off the year on Chad Dubz Foundation with the "Future" EP and appearing on Encrypted, Rarefied and Subaltern throughout the year, he now ends 2017 with another precision sub-low serenade. "Erf" is the creeper of the set, all foggy and graveyard stomping, "Nostromo" is the emotional moment with a swooning slo-mo Q&A that's pregnant in hope while "Agite" plays the consummate cosmic piece with sci-fi flurries zipping back and forth over a loosely-hemmed drum arrangement. Finally "Dwaas" ends on a motely note as Zygos teams up with Tosti for a sense-rattling finale where the percussion is scattered over the bass in a funky cascading way. Time to fly.
Review: This first album on Kode9's deeply-respected Hyperdub label comes from the mysterious Burial, who carves out a sound which sends the dormant slinky syncopations of UK garage, via radio interference, into a padded cell of cushioned, muffled bass, passing through clouds of Pole's dense crackle dub en route. 'Burial' - the album - explores a tangential, parallel dimension of the growing dubstep ouevre, using sounds set in a near-future South London submerged underwater. You can never tell if the crackle is the burning static off pirate radio transmissions, or the tropical downpour of the city outside, taking its loud-quiet aesthetic neither from the latest digital glitch software nor a mere nostalgia for vinyl's intrinsic physicality. In their sometimes suffocating melancholy, most of these tracks seem to yearn for drowned lovers, as haunted echoed voices breeze in and out, on roads to and from other times. The smouldering desire of 'Distant Lights' is cooled only by the percussive ice-sharp slicing of blades and jets of hot air blowing from the bass. Listen also for a fleeting appearance from Hyperdub's resident vocalist, the Spaceape, unravelling his cryptobiography. 'Burial' is a renegade signal from other frequencies, a tidal wave of seductive low-impact noise submerging all but the crispest syncopations, and is well on course to be universally welcomed as the standard-bearer for creative vision built upon the grime and dubstep blueprint.
Review: Seven years have passed since Burial first stopped us dead in our tracks with this universally acclaimed second album.. Sounding so different, so removed and far away from anything else, it changed the game entirely - and created a whole school of imitators in its wake. Now repressed by Hyperdub, this is a rare opportunity to grab it on fresh wax. Even if you have this on other formats in your collection, the dusty weight and chasmic crackles sound so much better on vinyl.
Review: Confession time... Kaiju's slick, innovative consistency is translated into album form with a concept that actually works. Seven sins, seven tracks - each one resembling their title in one way or another. "Envy" sees Jack Gates pouring out his heart, "Greed" groans and croaks like the last man standing at a banquet battle while the gully-grunting "Pride" struts with its head held so high it's almost in the clouds. "Sloth", as you'd expect, is a much slower, spacier, deeper creeper with cavernous room around each percussive element while "Gluttony" shows off the duo's ability by squeezing in almost too many ideas and fresh textures. Finally, "Wrath" lashes out with hard-hitting snare vengeance and "Lust" brings the show to a sweet, soft-focus close with Riya and Total Science providing the perfect deep dream textures. Sinfully good.
Review: It seems fitting that the hundredth and final volume in the "FabricLive" mix series should also be its most hotly anticipated. Coming from heavyweight heroes Kode9 and Burial - whose previous back-to-back mix for Mary-Anne Hobbs' show eight years ago has reached near mythical status. The album is a wonderfully full-throttle and mixed-up affair, with the shadowy bass lieutenants giddily flitting between quick-fire sections focusing on South African gqom, footwork, Juke, vintage hardcore, early jungle and more contemporary dancefloor experimentalism, each broken up by typically blazed and paranoid ambient interludes and the occasional surprise selection. There's a lot going on throughout, but that only adds to the fun. In other words, it's a triumphant finale to a landmark mix series.
Review: Nine years deep and still sounding as future as ever, Kode9 and The Spaceape's first album is historic in so many different directions... It's the first ever Hyperdub album, Kode9's sonic scope and barbed soundscapes and Spaceape's paranoid poetry and rhythmic narratives complement and tailor each other in a way no other dubstep-related producer and MC have ever sounded (before and since), the beats remain a unique, diverse, creative dynamic almost a decade later... And, sadly, the late Spaceape's stories now come laden with added portent poignancy. All proceeds from this reissue go to Stephen Samuel Gordon's family; if you haven't got this on vinyl you know what to do.