Review: Woah, we didn't see this coming; Ajunabeats, the UK trance imprint founded in 2000 by Above & Beyond types Jono Grant and Paavo Siljamaki, release a pair of remixes that touch on dubstep and future garage. The label boss's "Sun & Moon" is given some sub bass growl and menace by Distance on the A, while Seiji pops up with a garage-y interpretation on the flip that retains the straight up trance synths and chipmunk vocals!
Review: The Allstars compilation series from Tempa has proved a fine litmus test of the UK underground since it was launched in the heady early days of dubstep circa 2003. An eighth volume rounds out Tempa's 2015 business and this broadly diverse selection is proof enough that bass music is in fine health. Following his superb debut LP for Tectonic, Acre opens the doublepack with the stuttered, swung sound design of "Messages", and from here Tempa run the gamut of the UK bass scene. Epoch lays down raw and doomy steppa vibes with "The Vile", Cliques offers up futuristic footwork of "Aut" whilst both Youngsta & Distance and Biome bring the 140BPM heat.
Review: Otherwise known as Rob McAndrews, former James Blake collaborator Airhead is fast becoming one of the most interesting producers on the R&S roster since Blake's movement to more mainstream concerns. Taking a more explicitly rhythmic direction than previous release which concentrated on lush acoustic textures, "Pyramid Lake" combines rapidfire percussion, breathy vocal samples and lo-fi VHS textures to create the most unlikely club banger you'll hear this year. "Black Ink" meanwhile sounds like a maelstrom of kickdrums tumbling up and down a rubber staircase with stray hi-hats and handclaps thrown into the mix. Undeniably one of the best R&S cuts this year.
Review: Indigo and Synkro return for Houndstooth duty under the Akkord guise, with HTH020 their first material for the fabric-affiliated label since last year's roundly praised debut album. That long player was perhaps the most confident display of the sound design-heavy production style the Mancunian pair had been narrowing in on since their cultish white label bow, but this new 12" finds them adding whole new levels of darkness to the mix. Moody low end sits deep in the channels; given the space to breath by Akkord who seem careful to restrict their drum samples to the barest of appearances at times (see "Gravure") whilst those out there that enjoyed the Millie + Andrea album for Modern Love will probably gravitate towards "Continuum" which showcases a murky, raw take on breakbeat-led jungle.
Review: Described in typically effusive terms as "lethal" by Mary Ann Hobbes, bass don AMIT returns with a second transmission on his AMAR imprint. Those of you who indulged in last summer's inaugural release on the label will need little extra incentive to indulge here, but curious parties new to the label read on. AMIT's knack for productions that are both delicate and dark is in full effect on lead track, where vocals from Rani offer a sense of fragility that's gradually consumed by the sheer bass weight of the production. "Mr Clark" meanwhile is a deliciously evil concoction of brutal percussion, rebellious bass and haunting echoed vocals from Nomine. Rani appears once more on the dubwise "Your Native God" whilst "Daaku" finds AMIT discarding with collaborations for a dark tribal skanker!
Review: Finally... Someone's written a track about your mum: "Operator" is a sweet, sassy slice of modern jungle with wounding slo-mo kicks decorated with pretty splashes of amens and trimmed with delicious sub bass. "Fatty Batty" meanwhile, which is definitely not written about your mum, is a ridiculously funky contemporary bass jam with thundering kicks, cheeky horns and a groove so chunky you could feed a family of four for a year... And still have leftovers.
Review: Shackleton's tracks have been getting a caning from the likes of Kode 9 and N Type on Rinse FM, through to the likes of Rob da Bank on Radio One and also on XFM, and at raves such as DMZ and Subloaded. DJ support from people as diverse as Ricardo Villalobos. Positive reviews of previous releases have appeared in The Wire, IDJ, Fact magazine and many more.
Review: Bristol's champion of full-bodied and immaculately produced dubstep business brings more of his plush melodics to bear on the Halocyan imprint after sterling turns for the likes of Apple Pips. "Addict" is a prime example of his style, fusing crisp, sugarsnap garage drums with thick swathes of synths that dart and parry around each other with grace and skill. Komon steps up on the remix tip with a simple fashioning of the track into a chunky house groove that retains the essence of the original. "23 Summers" takes a more laidback approach to the steppiness, slinging R&B samples around in a delirous and boogie-inflected haze, while "Iron Oxide" plunges into a more rolling breakbeat flavour shot through with a healthy dose of melancholia. Finally, October gets jacking on a remix of "23 Summers" that piles on metallic percussion and bubbling acid in a linear and psyched out fashion that's as much industrial as it is techno.
Review: Fresh from opening proceedings on the newly relaunched R&S offshoot Apollo, Manchester based producer Synkro adds another notable entry to his growing discography, collaborating with ASC across two sublime electronic arrangements. They may have the Atlantic Ocean between them, but Synkro and his more celebrated collaborator share clear production ideals and this is hopefully the beginning of an intriguing working relationship. Swift yet delicate rhythms and tectonic deep bass form the backdrop to "Borderline" with ASC and Synkro slowly revealing an expansive atmosphere that positively tingles with delight. In contrast, "Sacred Moments" sees the duo in more pensive form, filling every iota of space between the half step thump that drives the track with downwards spirals of glowering yet restrained textures.
Review: MAJOR heat abounds on this. Mysterious act ATOS have delivered a smouldering slab of fractured, future soul. Sitting on its own island somewhere between Massive Attack, Submotion Orchestra and Burial, it's utterly beautiful. Naturally Skream's remix hits every spot. With shuddering half steps and a re-imagined vocal arrangement, it's like a whole new tune. Commodo, meanwhile, opts for strange jazzed out percussion and a dampened trippiness on the vocal. Three unique versions; each one of them stunning. Don't miss this.
Review: Celebrating his Tempa debut with an expansive four-track banquet, AxH is cooking with nothing but the most authentic heavyweight flavours right here. "Destroy" is instantly timeless as we're stripped back to the bare bass riddim and thundering kicks and claps. "Giant Footprints" is more groove focused as we swagger to the resonant halfstep and craggy, nagging hook. Further on we immerse ourselves in loopy hypnosis on "Everdine" and invest in bitter sweet drama on "I Feel Safe". Something tells us this is only the beginning of a perfect relationship between AxH and Tempa.
Review: Dean Blunt and Arca are back to reign in 2016 with their Babyfather alias, a moody and spectral style of theirs that digs deep into the science of low hertz. The release comes on Kode-9's mythical Hyberdub label, and it's as fitting as one would think: experimental beat structures and odd sonics blend to form a forward-thinking dance sound. "Meditation" is a stuttering, quasi 4/4 groove powered by a grizzly level of bass, and an artillery of black comedy voices spewing from all angles. It's a true UK hybrid, and it is honestly one of our favourite things to come from the label in a while; check the instrumental for a further dosage of weighty percussion. Recommended.
Review: Italic has been representing the electronic scene in Cologne and surrounding areas since before the turn of the century, playing house to stylistically ambiguous outfits such as Kreidler, Stabil Elite and the many different projects of Stefan Schwander. Last year saw Italic usher in the BAR project of Stabil Elite's Lucas Croon and Christina Irrgang, with their self-titled LP turning out a sharply informed blend of new wave, synth pop and the finest in German kosmische traditions. To accompany the album, Italic have called on a cast of artists specifically split between Dusseldorf and Los Angeles to remix BAR. Pharoahs take "Anjali Reverse" and turn it into a gently lilting Balearic vignette, while noted German dubstepper Orson nudges "Dexy's Alrobe" into a spacious half-step chiller. Diva Dompe, daughter of Bauhaus drummer Kevin Haskins no less, creates a bewitching version of "Adios" that sounds beamed straight out of Sunday morning, but for pure flair and unmistakable groove Wolf Muller's take on "BAR Theme" has us especially excited!
Review: After seriously impressing with the debut sounds of Andy Mac last time round, Bristol imprint Punch Drunk step it up a notch further with this monumental release from Bass Clef. The local hero turned Hackney import graces our shelves with his first release in 2011 and it's totally been worth the wait, unveiling the rather glorious sounds of "Rollercoasters Of The Heart". There's an undeniably throwback nod to the euphoric days of rave gone by thanks to the swirls of lysergia tinged stabs and stretched out vox, but it's how Bass Clef marries them to a crisp groove of rolling sub bass and crisp off kilter house drums that has us hooked. Complementing this, "So Cruel" brings the mood down markedly, revolving around a half time swagger and bouncing subs dipped in purple menace which are the perfect foil for the requisite looped up chanteuse. It's the searing synth flourishes that jettison through the track without announcement that lift "So Cruel" to somewhere near the title track in our affections.