Review: Where to place Weevil Neighbourhood? Is this dub techno? Perhaps. Dubstep? Maybe. Drum and bass? Sometimes. Experimental? Yes: in the truest sense of the word. It draws from all these aforementioned styles and more, resulting in the formation of a reclusive German label breaking the framework of many electronic music genres wide open. The title-track from Anthone's second EP for the label is where the dub techno suggestion comes from thanks to its caustic chord sequences, only there's flashes of dubstep beat designs and loose drum and bass textures similar to what can be heard on Felix K's Flowers Of Destruction. On the flip, "Lungs" is instrumental and live feeling. In parts it sounds like a band playing, while in others you can here the work of samplers looping, and when combined, it offers an industrial soundscape that's like merging some of the darker rock and metal stylings from Sex Tags No Amfibia with Regis' Sandra Electronics project, only reduced to the point of almost being ambient.
Review: Bristol-based badman Borai has been quietly issuing some of the city's most immense club wreckers for many years now, sometimes in partnership with October, and sometimes flying solo (as on the crucial Anybody From London for Hotline Recordings). Here he's inaugurating Higher Level with some absolute dance slayers, kicking off with the mammoth pitched-down drum funk and gut-wrenching bass of "Razor" before switching stance for the dreamier but no less rowdy "Predators." Both cuts are a masterclass in classic breakbeat science, delivering the foundational UK sound with panache that sets these weapons far apart from the rest of the pack.
Review: Dropping a searing double pack of 10" badness ahead of the forthcoming Angels & Devils album, The Bug is back in business with some apocalyptic gutter bass of the highest order. "Freakshow" matches the leering delivery of Danny Brown with the sinister croon of King Midas Sound's Kiki Hitomi over a horn-laden trap swagger to devastating effect. "Louder" pits Flowdan in the depths of a nauseating half-step march, while "Dirty" takes the London MC into a barrage of equally nerve-jangling drum rattles and alarm-clanging stabs. Long-time Bug collaborator Daddy Freddy rolls up his sleeves for "Kill Them", anchoring the dread stomp with a fearsome growl as anthemic as it is nihilistic.
Review: Following last year's "Contours", Nottingham duo Congi return to Fent Plates with more raw emotion. Once again with another five track feast that reflects their deepest, widest range to date. Across the EP we're immersed in tangible textures and feelings ranging from the cinematic piano laced two step of the title track to sludgy lofi hip hop of "Too Much" by way of the outer planetary R&B of the finale "Like The Seasons". Genuinely beguiling.
Review: Have a word... Youngsta's launched a brand new vinyl-only label and DBridge launches it. Need we say more? Both "Fashion Dread" and "Digital Dread" are Darren White at his darkest and most stately - elephantine production, moody and misty and ultimately soaked in beautifully warm bass, both cuts have been doing the rounds on dubs for almost two years and have been in demand since Youngsta debuted them. Simply massive. Get on these quickly.
Review: Fresh Sector 7, Bristol's Drone makes his debut on V.I.V.E.K's System Sound with two smoking slabs of bass weight. "Amphibious" funks up the radar for a bleep excursion through the swampiest of textures with only a trippy riser and noir spoken word. Flip for "Lucid Dreams" where things take a creepier undertone thanks to the cavernous space, waterdrops, roomy switchy kicks, pranged out reverse manoeuvres and a sub as thick as marmite. Immense.
Review: Dubkasm's digi-dub roots dig deep into the early 90s. Boosted into the future by fellow Bristolians Pinch, Appleblim and Headhunter, here we find them declaring "Victory" with this instantly show-stopping horn-heavy skanker. Laced with space and complete with myriad versions, a fine balance of meditative bass and mind-blowing sonic creativity is at play throughout. Those with a penchant for the abyss-levels of dub science should jump straight on "Verse IV". Hear that stretched horn sound and you'll soon understand why it's been sub-titled "Raw Piece". Victory is yours!
Review: Kahn & Neek return to local hub Peng Sound for some self titled double plated dubplate action under their steppahs project Gorgon Sound, housed in a rather lovely stamped gatefold sleeve. Although primarily known for their incendiary grime bangers on their own Bandulu imprint, and the dancehall sounds of last year's Backchat single, Kahn & Neek's steppahs-influenced Gorgon Sound project is a chance for them to expand on Bristol's rich legacy of dub, reggae, and soundsystem culture. Since the pair decided to begin the project in 2010, Gorgon Sound has since evolved into a full dubplate DJ operation, with a show made up of entirely their own material. Last year saw the Gorgon Sound project see its first vinyl release, in the form of "Find Jah Way", which featured on the debut released from Bristol's Peng Sound; this double 12" release presents a more expansive take on their steppahs sound, featuring four cuts of West Country bassweight with guest vocalist spots from Brazil's Junior Dread and Bristol's Guy Calhoun.
Review: Peng Sound revisit their highly sought after debut release. Just shy of two years old, it still rattles and hums with authentic dub warmth and drama. Gorgon Sound's original bubbles with bouncy heat as the bass modulations spring off the double-up kicks. Dubkasm's version is equally alluring as we're invited into a much wider space where guitar shots and other melodic elements are entwined into the mix. One timeless composition, two killer versions, if you weren't lucky enough to grab this first time round, you know what to do!
Review: Uncompromised 140 magic right here as Tokyo's Helktram returns with their first full single in over two years. This time coming on Trusik, each cut flexes into a different dimension. Opening track "Suggestive Effect" hits like a pneumatic techno drill, marching militantly into your cortex with its staccato drill. "Insecure" plays the consummate foil with its glacial textures and weeping, woozy chords while "Iron Box" brings things together with a classic Coki-style pinched wobble driving the groove both back and forth in time.
Review: Having recently notched up 100 releases, Tectonic begins a new era by offering up a suitably weighty collaborative release from Peng Sound regular Ishan Sound. On side A, the Young Echo member joins forces with Hodge - owner of the nicest hair in techno - for the deep and dreamy dubstep shuffle of "C5", where fluid riffs dance above a blazed but powerful beat. Muttley lends a hand on flipside cut "Still Smoking", an altogether livelier and more aggressive - if still suitably deep and hazy - 140 BPM workout that comes complete with stabbing, grime style riffs and some serious subsonic bass.
Review: Previously spotted on Boomarm Nation, Turkish bass experimentalists make their debut on Innamind's Blacklist imprint with four of the nuttiest, most far-out tracks you'll hear this season. Sitting somewhere between Modeselektor and Squarepusher but with dubbier roots, highlights include the tripped out harmonic headiness of "Heavy Machyn Gun" and "Phix", the slo-mo white knuckle ride with fellow Turk Gantz. Off the planetary hook.
Review: Back in 2016, Leo James stepped up to deliver the debut 12" on J.Sparrow's Navy Cut imprint. Here he returns to the label for the first time since, and this time he's got soul-soaked reggae vocalist J Appiah in tow (an artist last spotted lending his honeyed tones to a house record by Damian Lazarus). The vibe here is slow, sensual and emotional, with atmosphere taking precedence over any notion of appeasing peak-time dancefloors. That's a good thing, though, because "Struggle" - a deep, smoky dub-soul cut rich in delay-laden reggae instrumentation, weighty bass and heart-aching vocals from Appiah - is sublime. There's more of a dancefloor feel to the similarly dubbed-out and heartfelt "Lost & Found", with a rhythmic shuffle that's slightly closer to house than stereotypical dubstep.
Review: Keeping it loose as we wade into a new year, Encrypted Audio ask Japan's Karnage back for more faraway jams. As with previous outings together, it's an enveloping sea of shades ranging from the woozily bent and cascading tones of "Leaper" that almost slime off the beats to the bleary flute loop that's mangled with precision levels of uplift on "Mysticism". In between we have the industrial strength "SOL" which sounds like a steel foundry melted into a waveform. Powerful.
Review: Sukh Knight on White Peach. The stars really have aligned on this one. White Peach's penchant for innovative newness and Sukh's nose for rolling funk that's rooted in the late 2000s style while never looking nostalgic or like its covering old ground: you already know how good this is. "Beast" is the deeper roller of the pair with its pneumatic, well-oiled rhythm flowing like lava and the bass purring beneath. "Nightcrawler" is an instant banger with its ruffage sandpaper riff providing dry gully slaps and cheeky grime bass ping-pongs on the ones and fours. Classic Sukh. Classic White Peach.
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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: Los Angelenos Subtle Mind have been making not so subtle waves in the US bass scene for quite some time. Needless to say, Austin and Paul's debut release on Subaltern Records brings in a different style to the imprint with a flavorful and melodic yet weighty selection on the Ambitions EP. The title track features the rhyming of Ill Chill and truly rolls deep - this is proper west coast vibes with the sunroof down and spliff in hand! On the flip, be prepared for a massive bassline on "Gelato" complete with wonky synths and trap style hi-hats. Finally, things take a slightly more moody turn on "Standard Strain" (feat Saule) probably due to the addition of that snarling sub bass frequency, but mellowed out by those sampled vocal textures atop - a nice touch.
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: 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.
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: 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: 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: 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.
Review: The original enfant terrible of the bass music world marks his second long player for 4AD with a sprawling opus of more than 30 skits and skirmishes daubed in his trademark colourful sonic scrawl. There is plenty here that reminds you of the early days of the producer's emergence when dubstep was a younger beast, from the spacious "Horrid" to the measured arpeggios of "Pray For Me", but you'll also find more intricate musings such as the dynamic and dramatic "Memories". Hype abounds on the creepy Funky of "VI-XI", while "Overdose" launches enthusiastically into a jungle tear out. At any given turn, you'll find yourself surprised, lurched from a serene mood into a manic one, only to be tempered again. There's a staggering range of ideas and styles to comprehend here, but would you want it any other way from one of electronic music's most outspoken upstarts?