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: Some two years since their last emission, El B's Ghost imprint returns with a double dose of dark side swingers weighed down by the sheer pressure of the bass! There might be little information to hand about Caski (other than a remix credit for Man Recordings from 2009) but "Lunatic" is perfectly titled and perfectly poised to cause dancefloor mayhem with rave specific stabs aligning to bucking percussion and screw face inducing sub bass in gleefully obnoxious fashion. It makes for the sort of track you hope there isn't a club photographer nearby when it gets dropped. EL B's contribution "Romp" is positively serene in comparison with detailed bouncing steppah rhythms (some lovely cymbal touches) engulfed by a jagged, schizoid mid range garage frequency.
Review: The stars have aligned on this one: Youngsta's impeccable Sentry imprint has meant the business since it launched last year with dBridge and it's got hotter ever since. Now battered and bruised by two Caspa workouts, the message is even louder. "Gutter Riddim" is a powerful groaner with warped bass and slight trap elements in the rolling drums while "Hot Head" plays with our senses with a vicious angular drop that suddenly explodes into the wobble fest of your (wet) dreams. Stinking.
Review: Consistent operator from the German shadows, Causa's drinking the strong juice again. Or "Juce", as the case is right here... A loose-legged graveyard strut where strange tones echo and pop out when you least expect them. "Struggle" writhes and jitters with an alien funk and some of the coolest, strangest drum fills we've heard on bass record recently. Finally "Minerals" closes the B with a wonked trip of off-grid kicks, woozy melodica and barbed electric fence textures running point beneath. Crucial by name, crucial by nature.
Review: Both parties involved in this dispatch are on a serious roll right now... J Kenzo's Artikal continues to go from strength to strength with its boundary smelting visions while Causa's currency continues to rise as more and more established men co-sign him as a hot future prospect. In fact, as proved by the bulbous squidge of "Medication" and the Tubby horn flares and fissures of "Undubbed", Causa isn't just a hot future prospect... He's killing it in the present too. Serious dubstep business.
Review: Infernal Sounds started as a widely followed YouTube channel specializing in promoting other people's music and mixes, but over the last two years they've started churning out solid, deep-minded dubstep of their own. And dubstep it is, because we don't like labelling any UK dance tune that deviates from house simply as 'bass'. Newcomers Causa and Shu drop a heavy, murky bombshell in "Dubhelmet", followed by the comparatively sunnier bass pounds and two-steps of "Dawn Chorus", and the DMZ vibes of "System One", a traditional sort of banger that you don't often here anymore. Tip!
Review: V.I.V.E.K's System imprint comes forth with the first Cessman track we've enjoyed on wax for some time now. "Higher Rising" explores the original roots; cavernous space, meticulously placed and polished elements, sirens and a heavy halfstep, it's the Dubliminal boss living up to his name with true meditative craft. "Deadly Serpent" drives deeper into the night with a much more insistent and tightly rolled percussive weave that writhes and slides between and beneath dense atmospheric waves. Welcome back Cessman and thank you System.
Review: Like a many Britons, Chad Dubz doesn't have much time for Prime Minister Theresa May, who was, at the time of writing, still just about clinging on to her job. He's not only included a demonic painting of the "Maybot" as a "Reptilian Bitch" (his words, not ours) on the record's centre labels, but also made a thrillingly angular and heavy dubstep smasher as a kind of artistic two-fingered salute. LSN's flipside remix of the title track ratchets up the distorted analogue bass and mind-altering electronics, while also adding some suitably exasperated and sweary vocal samples. Elsewhere, "Wob" is a deep stepper powered by a gargantuan wobble bassline, while "Rollin'" not only does exactly what it says on the tin, but also includes the EP's deepest, heaviest bassline.
Review: Gnischrew's label hits its third outing with Bristol's Chad Dubz. Maintaining the meditative theme from previous Sub Audio outings, Dubz opens with "Wisdom" wherein a whole barrel of space funk is ripped open and the skanks are so textured you feel you get lost inside them. "Stuck In The Loop" plays the consummate foil as the Bristol producer takes us on a much more paranoid, tunnelling trip. And if that's not enough, man of the moment Hebbe provides a killer remix for good measure. Be wise.
Review: Chad's got so much bounce to the ounce, he's come packing 22 of them... Classically carved and arranged, the title track has that timeless 07 swagger where the bassline Q&A flops around the kicks in such a disarming and infectious way. Elsewhere we're crushed by the bassweight of "Elephant", we're tripped out by the classic staccato croaks and eerie textures of "Under The Influence" before signing out with the mystic, smoke-stacked centrepiece "Flute Dem". Pound for pound, Chad don't get any deeper than this.
Review: Dubzy's back with some biblical business, old testament style: "Wrath Of God" lives up to its name with swaggering near-operatic levels of theatre and drama and high levels of smite in the subs. "Dilemma" softens the vibe a little thanks to a set of Oriental pipes and a springy funk in the drums. Finally, "Fuck 'Em" shuts the EP down with a swampy 2007-style system shake. Loose percussion, big string strikes and a few surprises in bassline; the omnipotent Chad is in fine form here. Smiting ain't easy.
Review: Foundation sounds from the man like Dubz and limited to 300. This is serious: "Kingdom Dub" is a tree-swinging powerhouse with a chest-beating bassline and superb swing in the weighted drums. "Space Cadet" strips down the session to the naked rudiments as a heavily reverbed drum slaps and warped FX tickle. "Drainpipe" seals the deal on a trippy note where the rhythmic elements have been slow cooked to a squishy malleable texture. You know what to do...
Review: Following their launch last year with Headland, new system-focused bass imprint Unity Through Sound invite another super respected low end sculptor to the highly limited 12" fray. "Drained" lives up to its name as the low harmonics almost groan under the weight of the dubspace. Flip for a lighter step as "Dubaholic" tells tale of Chad's addiction to Jamaican studio science by way of tripped-out cosmic tweaks and sweet skank that flickers for days. Jump on this quickly.
Review: Last spotted on Boka shotting "22 Ounces", Chad Dubz now returns to find us all fully fledged "Addicts" awaiting our next Bristol fix. The lead track is at once bouncy and subdued with a heavy pressure and filter on the riff fluctuations. "Out Of Here" gets us on the first train to rehab city, its tricky percussive rolls and deep space slowly cleansing our souls before "Teachings In Wub" diverts us with scholarly wobble-whipped subterfuge. The final stage of our program takes us deep into the wilderness to find ourselves; "Iggy's Castle" leaves us on a mystic finale, all cobweb sonics and strange shadows. Moreish.
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.
Review: The re-born R&S Records imprint has gone from strength to strength over the past 18 months. Against all the odds, the former Belgian rave behemoth has become a 'must-check' for fans of forward-thinking bass music and twisted, floor-friendly electronica. Here, they continue that theme, with R&S office boy Dan Foat resurrecting his partnership with pal Nathan Boddy as The Chain. Last time out (2009) they were making techno; nowadays they're laying down wonky medieval rave music that layers harpsichord samples on top of dubstep beats. It's pretty tasty. B-Side "Maja", a kind of Joey Beltram-on-speed rave banger that could have dropped on R&S in '92, is humungous, too.
Review: Following last summer's scorching anonymous first CV white label "War / Fan Dem Off", RDG's label returns with another mysterious never-to-be-repressed doublet. Fittingly cold and wintry for this time of year, both "Sly" and the much-coveted "Teardrop" are taken to glacial places. Deep, smoky, spacious and foggy, both cuts burn long smouldering fires both at home and in the dance. Grab them while they're ice cold.
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.