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: One of the most prominent and on-point dubstep labels to emerge in recent years, Youngsta's Sentry hits new peaks with their first V/A album. The full set will include the likes of Argo, Taso, Sukh Knight, Mr K, LSN, Nomine, Opus and many more contemporary low end visionaries. And it kicks off right here with a truly international collective; Truth, Caspa, Bukez Finezt, Onhell. From New Zealand to Cali via Germany and UK, all vibes are explored here... Cosmic swagger on Truth's "Simulation Theory", paranoid gravity-defying deepness on Caspa's "Anyone Else" and proper Mozart-flavoured 808 mischief from Bukez Finezt. Onhell brings this remarkable syndication to a close with the wavey, poignant "Sun Ra". Bring on the whole album.
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: 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: ** REPRESS ALERT ** Given that his sound has now been referenced, copied and bastardised by countless imitators, is testament to Burial's enduring appeal that the announcement of a new EP on a Sunday in Febuary was enough to shake the online music press out of their collective stupors. As an EP it more than stands up to his previous work, and it may even be better than last year's Street Halo EP - where the brilliance of the title track left the EP quite top-heavy, there's no such complaints on Kindred. If UK garage was the touchpoint for his earlier releases, this EP sees Burial further developing a sound that has few obvious points of comparison, whether it's the savage, gnarled bassline of the title track, or the shambling house of "Loner", characterized by its hollowed out arpeggio and ambient crackle. But it's "Ashtray Wasp" that provides the most breathtaking moment, seeing the producer using the distinct musical language he's created and bringing confident melodic elements into play. Of course such descriptions seem trivial when trying to describe this EP - even for Burial it's far beyond what his peers and imitators could ever imagine making.
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: J:Kenzo strikes us down with pure bass weight once again, this time on Infernal Sounds with an almighty remix of San Francisco's Saule's ploughman stepper "Cure Dem". Adding an orchestral twist to those murderous stabs, this remix doesn't so much as cure but completely blazes every possible inch of your skin. Flip for an escapade of more ominous proportions as "Shijima's Revenge" takes us deep into Japanese legend with a powerful droning bass and a march-like groove that will have you trooping into the shadiest of graveyards. Absolute murderation.
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: 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: Deep mischief from the Bangor triad LSN. Their first EP since December 2018, it's an instant hit of low end refreshment that stretches the full terrain. On the A: "I Don't Know What That Means" is a deeply trippy workout that turns the spoken word samples inside out while "Oscillator" flips for a raw vocal cut that swaggers and smoulders in equal measure. Meanwhile on the B: "Gone For Never" is a stern jam sprung with a tightly coiled buzzing riff and "Rubberhands" brings every bit as much funk as its name implies. Squelchy.
Review: Japanese junglist Ishio Dai presses up another Effective96 heavyweight handstamped white. Harnessing the magic of Skatalite's Jonny Moore on both sides, "Mirage" takes us deep into his own cloudy atmospheric universe upon a rolling jazz-minded drum arrangement while "Island Dub" strips everything right back to the crucial constituent parts to allow each rhythmic and dubbed element to sing. Singular.
Review: Oof! It's finally here; two east London mic dons link up over a heavy Chimpo beat on Jamakabi's Rhythm Rollers for a name that truly lives up to its name. Doing the rounds in various forms since last year, "Wickedest Ting" touches wax in two perfect version; the body-slamming original and a bashing jungle twist from the Ghosty Men. Wicked.
Review: Scottish artist Aether emerges from the ether with some of his most spell-binding material to date. Twinkling, evocative and hazy, there's a dreamlike theme as the narrative runs throughout and we're taken down lullaby lane with woozy and wondrous results. From the startling sunrise soul of the first encounter to the poignant, lingering final goodbye, Aether's sonic imagery and consistency makes this more of a mini album than an EP. Utterly beautiful.
Review: It's hard to think of a DJ with the global profile of Nina Kraviz who runs a label as underground and innovative as trip. The latest comes from Shadowax, who has previously contributed to the label's compilations but now makes her full label debut. Unlike much of the frantic and frenetic material trip has dealt with in the past, this EP slows the tempos and explores more moody and hypnotic techno. Opener "Nikolai Reptile" is a super slow motion and dub rhythm with searching synth lines gently riding up and down the scale, while "Ochen" recalls the icy minimal perfection of Daniel Bell. "What About Me" has spoken word mutterings and paranoid, pressurised kicks that hurry you along and lastly "Mortal Talking" is a flurry of hyper-speed drums and synth loops to fully flip you out.
Review: Chonkster Rygby comes correct once again on one of his earliest stomping grounds, Encrypted. Opener "Jansky" doesn't so much as make you swoon but will have you swiping right all night long with its emotional chords and affable off-side bass bubbles. "Twinkle Toez", however, isn't quite the lover's lullaby. Creepy Halloween feels a-go-go, this explores a much darker side of Rygby's bounce athletics. "Deadliest Force" closes us off on more of a grime instrumental vibe but with a wry filmic edge. Emotions remain high. As they always do with this Bristol basssmith.
Dark Harmonics & Otz - "Voidwalker" (J Kenzo remix) (5:05)
Track 4 (4:14)
Review: Vinyl-only business from the FKOF crew: Sheffield's Dark Harmonics and Subaltern's Otz team up for the incendiary "Voidwalker". Creepier than a graveyard picnic, it's all in the strange misty textures and powerful sense of tension before the flabbiest of subs kick in and the fun begins. Remix wise J:Kenzo does them proud with a similarly tense twist that's based around hard swaggering kicks and more eerie and bad dream textures. Elsewhere Dark Harmonics throws down a crucial solo. Brilliantly entitled "Fucking Spiders", it's an outstanding piece of 23rd century funk with all the right room and gloom we've come to expect from him. Creepy crawly.
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: Following cuts on Gourmet and Trusik, Osaka's City1 makes his debut on Subaltern with three more reasons to keep him radar-locked. Hurling us into the mix with no warning, "Speak Out" takes the lead with Japanese steel licks and fire tongue truths from Rider Shafique before "Koroga" oozes its way in pursuit. All wet and wobbly, it's 2007 all over again but with a wily sense of direction that never sits still. "Zee" closes the EP in true pranged-out fashion. Off-key, warped and a grumpy bassline that harrumphs for days, if you need any more reasons to keep tabs on City1 just lift the needle and play again.
Review: The cavendish crusaders are at it again. And this time they're rolling out the barrels with full V/A power. Chad Dubz opens with the provocatively titled "Pricks", all sludgy, swampy and twisted while Karnage & Dayzero up the energy with a dramatic symphonic loopy nod to the far east on "No One" while Guesswerk close the show with the long awaited "Persian Dub". On dub for a good couple of years, this gravel throated swinger has been doing the business for a select amount of DJs for some time. Now it's finally yours. From Bristol with fruit. Tuck in and be quick about it.
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.