Review: Three releases deep, each one an absolute peach: Youngsta's Sentry label has been total fire so far. Kicking off with dBridge, then Nomine, now the label take us to New Zealand for its third outing as Akcept takes the controls and proceeds to drive on both sides of the road; "Dreader Than Dread" is an epic bounce back 10 years with its brazenly funk horns and rolling chubby bass groove while "Howl" is a lot more spaced out, starker, late night jam with a fatty sub line that should come with a health warning. Stay alert.
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: 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.
She Saw The Whole Thing (Fill Spectre version) (6:41)
Review: Denver don Malleus dials up the emotions once again. "She Saw The Whole Thing" sways with his now signature pensive, poignant crawl. Smoky, unhurried and laced with layers of instruments, there's a barbed soul humming throughout... And some deliciously bulbous subs in the mix, too. Fill Spectre joins the fray on the B with more of a gnarled remix that contains some additional sampled elements that punctuate the beat in a way that's kinda reminiscent of Pretty Lights. One for the head, the other for the soul; both for the deepest of dances, Gourmet feast us once again...
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: 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: 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?