Review: Chestplate and Artikal = Chestikal. If that doesn't already grab your attention then the fact that it's Distance and J:Kenzo on two massive collabos and the tunes are every bit as smoking, spacious and sick as you'd like them to be most certainly will. "The Offering" is a pure swaggering jam with rasping, distorted basslines striking through anything and everything in their wake. "Dhyana" offers sublime contrast with a much deeper, smokier blend of mystical atmospheres, roomy drums and an eerie eastern call that will have your skin up in so many goosebumps you might just grow feathers. Big up your chestikals.
Review: Fresh from his excursions with Jubei on Metalheadz, J Kenzo returns with two more distinctive sonic spells. "Magneto" is a rumbling halfstep behemoth; slurring bass, a dark pitched down vocal loop and a savage low-end groove, it reminds us why we all fell in love with Tempa sound in the first place. "TVR" is even more interesting; rolling on a low-swung, shuffling breakbeat, there's a techno sensibility to the loops and incessant groove. Carrying all the classic J Kenzo hallmarks while pushing him in a wholly new direction, this will go down as a pivotal release for Kenzo.
Review: The first new material since his self-titled album in September 2012, Kenzo goes all-in on this immense Tempa four-tracker. "Cause & Effect" is a slurring, slo-mo psychedelic workout with eerie, ominous pads and anvil-like beats. "Ricochet" lives up to its name with a tight ping-pong polyrhythm that quickly builds momentum before taking a deep, steady breath on the halfsteps. "Enter Valarak" is the darkest cut of the pack thanks to swaggering dragon tempo that blows smoke out of its clogged bass nostrils. "Bloodlines" completes the set with tight weaves of percussion, off-kilter loops and trippy dubbed out jungle bleeps. Tracing dubstep's bloodlines back to its soundsystem roots, Kenzo truly deserves the 'classicist' title the press have recently given him.
Review: Taking a savage bite out of 2018 before January is even out, Artikal don J:Kenzo strides forth with two show-stopping cuts. "Shark Eye" has all the killer instinct coded deep into sprung drums and restrained but ominous bass growls. "Asutoraru" on the flip drives with more of an upbeat feel thanks to its rolling percussion, staccato riff and pneumatic, soul-flattening kicks. We're going to need a bigger sub.
Review: Hello is the serious burns unit? Yes it's Juno Records here, we've been in direct contact with J Kenzo's latest Artikal 12" and have lost several layers of skin. Get an ambulance right away you say? Just after we've listened to this a few more times... "Battlefield" twitches a ruddy sub that bounces around beneath big system horns and a strident energetic drum groove. "Zbantu Shake" is a much more stripped back stepper that's all wooden kicks, trippy flute flurries and ladles of thick treacle subs. Soundboy killing material.
Review: Following his heavyweight EP on Thirtyone, J:Kenzo continues the D&B flavour on his own Artikal imprint. While the jungle he peddled on Doc Scott's imprint was slippery and minimal, "Intalek" is much more rugged and dense with rattling breaks saturated in pulsating bass. Meanwhile on the B "Revan" takes us back to Kenzo's roots with a rolling, percussion-heavy dubstep jam that rolls with tonnes of energy. A really strong release to conclude a great year for Artikal.
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: Here is the first of two 12" samplers preceding The Compilation, a self explanatory label collection from the Artikal crew which lays down a tasty marker for what to expect when the full 14 track release drops later this month. Naturally label co-founder J Kenzo leads the way with "Straight Defeat" which features the bubbling rap flow of Collinjah, but there's plenty more to sink your teeth into. Check the swinging minimalism and bulbous kicks of Biome's "Solstice" and Truth's chop-slapping stark design on "Questions".
Review: As you'd perhaps expect, the second part (or "plate") of Artikal's The Architects Volume 1 compilation is full of deep and weighty treats. Fittingly, label boss J:Kenzo steps up first, offering Resound the chance to turn "Intallek" into a crunchy, snare-heavy revivalist jungle treat. TMSV take an altogether deeper route on "Sprite", peppering a tribal dubstep rhythm and moody sub-bass line with clandestine electronics and foreboding effects, before Compa slows things down via the melancholic bass science of "Lampin". Arguably best of all, though, is Argo's pleasingly melodious deep dubstep roller "That Fresh", which fittingly rounds off a fine EP.
Review: Tempa turns back time while staring defiantly into the future: Youngsta takes Truth's summer 2013 thunder-jam "Devil's Hands" and turbo-charges it with such a steppy dynamic you can see the speed lines firing from your speaker. Next up, take J Kenzo's 2012 minimal blunderbuss and introduce an added synth texture and a slinkier groove to the bass. Both fine examples of how to smash a remix while paying respect to the strong originals.
Review: Master of space in more ways than one, dub cadet Kenzo takes us to the stars and back on his long-awaited sophomore album "Taygeta Code". Now fully immersed in both jungle and 140 worlds, with a sound much less bounded with any one genre, it's much less of a follow up to his self-titled 2012 debut LP and much more of a completely new trip. Leaping from idea to idea, one moment we're swimming in the oceanic emotions with Lelijveld on "Broken Dreams", the next we're being bounced between the bleeps on the brutal sci-fi funk of "Deadbull". Elsewhere Navi joins the fray on the bulldozing, grunt-bass stomper "Narky", "Token Image" gets fizzy on the percussion with a great sense of layered momentum while "Starseed 47" brings us back home with the deep dub J:Kenzo first properly made his name with. Roomy, often gloomy, always heavy and full surprises. Follow the code.