Review: While he's offered up the occasional remix, William "Burial" Bevan has been rather quiet of late. In fact, this two-tracker marks his first original material for almost two years. Lead cut "Claustro" is an unexpectedly up-tempo dancefloor affair - a sweet and sticky chunk of future-garage that sees Bevan wrap sugary female vocal snippets, spacey chords and bubbly analogue electronics around snappy two-step beats - drenched in vinyl crackle and tape hiss - and a rock solid bassline. It will raise a few eyebrows given his previous work but nevertheless sounds like a summer anthem in waiting. Bevan returns to familiar territory on flipside cut "State Forest", a ghostly, field recording-laden ambient excursion where pedal steel style motifs slowly rise above opaque electronics.
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: Last year Burial and the Bug joined forces as Flame 1, delivering an in-demand EP on the latter's Pressure label featuring two sizable slabs of industrial strength soundsystem science. Here they return as Flame 2, once again offering up a pair of weighty dancefloor excursions. A-side "Dive" is a loud and claustrophobic affair, as the duo wraps dystopian dub bass and sparse, mutilated post-drill rhythms in layers of apocalyptic aural textures and mind-altering dub techno style processed noise. Flipside "Rain" is arguably more suitable for dancefloor plays and sees the esteemed twosome combine pulverizing sub-bass heaviness with dancehall style drums that come smothered in mind-melting effects and paranoia-inducing aural smoke.
Review: Bandulu strike again! This time with fellow kindred system spirit Bengal Sound. Two more totally disarming, otherworldly experiments, if you've just returned from Outlook then you'll already know what damage these are causing. "Never Mind" warms up with graveyard stroll before opening up into a strange shimmering organ riff that doesn't quite sound as if it's made on this planet. "Short Stay" meanwhile twists up the percussion and drum arrangements, making them almost breathe with trippy toxicity and a wooziness you just can't find in any other style of music. One of a kind and already teased out a few months ago. This new batch won't last long.
Review: New Zealander Akcept is arguably rather representative of his home country's unique approach to bass music, offering up a string of releases for the likes of Modern Hypnosis, Amar and Moonshine that fuse dubstep and UK dub rhythms with audible references to techno and roots music. He's at it again on this superb new single, first combining African percussion, pitched down vocal samples, deep dubstep rhythms, weighty bass and dub effects on A-side club cut "Cambridge Road". He stays closer to experimental dub territory on flipside "Over & Out", where sparse drum hits and metallic dub trails combine with an unashamedly heavy sub-bass motif and Melodica samples to devastating effect.
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: 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: Om Unit takes it to the bridge once again. His label's first V/A collection since its evergreen "Cosmology Selections" in 2017, it's another vast plain ripe in sonic depths and textures from some of the most left-minded, boundary-fusing captains in the bass game. Featuring two crucial link-ups from the bossman himself with two kindred spirits Djrum and Synkro plus a whole cosmic cornucopia of voyages from the likes of Danny Scrilla, J:Kenzo, Vromm and stacks more, every track is a highlight in its own beguiling way. No label flares with the same level of dark vitality, there's more than enough for our brains to chew on right here.
Review: Mean Gene Headland returns to the perennial dub stable Innamind with three more bone-shaking beauties. "The Judge" slams the hammer of justice down and declares us all innocent as an accordion chord weaves around middle eastern strings, "Camino" puts its foot down and drives us into the horizon on a road made of naked drums under a sky of dreamy harpsicord arpeggios while "Strays" summons us all back to the courtroom and declares us guilty in one fell moody, groaning bassline swoop. Court dismissed.
Review: These are tracks designed to rattle ribs and loosen the foundations of any building. They mark another step up for the esteemed bass talents of Samba after releases on the likes of System and Encrypted. "Winona" has a floaty light flute and devastating drums that makes for a nice juxtaposition. "Worms" is darker and more writhing with industrial sound designs and prowling beats, while "King Kan" is a wobbling, shimmering bit of bass gold. "Snakes. Egos" is creepy and unsettling thanks to the freaky synth motifs and closes out a well formed EP.
Review: In the words of Mystik himself... This has been a long time coming. The shimmering chords and heavy rolls of "Misty In Roots" were written between the two antipodean modern day dub dons years ago but it's remained on dub until now. It's back by two more heavy system testers; "Sabu" takes a deep breath before coiling up with percussion then springing into action when the kicks skip in. "2 Steps Backwards" takes more of a trad dub stance with swaggering spaced out beats and a delicious array of old school FX work in the mix. Misty in roots; clear in message.
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: 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: Peng Sound revisit their highly sought after debut release. Just shy of two years old, it still rattles and hums with authentic dub warmth and drama. Gorgon Sound's original bubbles with bouncy heat as the bass modulations spring off the double-up kicks. Dubkasm's version is equally alluring as we're invited into a much wider space where guitar shots and other melodic elements are entwined into the mix. One timeless composition, two killer versions, if you weren't lucky enough to grab this first time round, you know what to do!
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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: After a decidedly silent 2013 Burial is back on Hyperdub with a new single that points to pastures new for the stealthy producer. "Rival Dealer" is sure to polarize opinion as it takes a positively unexpected route into hardcore breaks, static interference, all manner of oddball speech samples, diversions and switches in dynamics, and a willfully grainy production finish that borders on punk. Depending on where you choose to dive into the ten-minute track the experience could be very different; experiencing it in full is nothing short of a rollercoaster. "Hiders" too is full of surprises, more indebted to pop balladry than anything remotely garage related, and the emotive croon and swooning piano is only magnified by a Yazoo-esque drum stomp at the midway point. "Come Down To Us" is equally heartfelt, all slow release vocals and languid chords yet constantly fractured at the edges, with yet more surprising turns of bombast waiting in the wings over thirteen minutes.
Review: It's 2019 and Chestplate bossman Distance is well and truly woke. Dropping his first officials since his outing on J:Kenzo's Artikal last spring, the whole four tracker is a pungent trip back to the stinker golden age. Rough funk, distorted and tailored strictly to kick the living peanuts out of the crowd, each cut is Distance doing what he does best. From the psychedelic dirge of "Awaken" right through to the orchestral darkness of "Settling Scores", Distance isn't mucking around here. Neither should you.
Review: Version co-bossman Orson seems to only drop a release once a year. But when he does, it's always worth paying close attention to. As with all things Version, it's a full trip that joins dots well beyond the assumed or conventional dub continuum. "Agadir" is a hazy Latin mooch into dub disco territory while "Delivero" is positively Balearic with its 105BPM plod, delicate arpeggiated weaves and sudden drop into soulful vocals. Flip for "Toxic Waste" as Orson goes all percussive and broken beat (think Tyrant) while "Garzweiler" closes on an stormy ambient note. Batten down the hatches.
Review: Destination San Francisco: Artikal snap-up Saule for his debut EP release. Long-time selector but an emerging producer, he's pushing all the right buttons here. Opener "Zeroes" is all flabby moving subs and shimmering theremin harmonics, "Baro" hits with more of an industrial twang in the percussive textures without losing any sense of warmth, trippiness or weirdness (watch out for the danked-out breakdown, though). The final shots are fired on "Pistola" as things take an even stranger turn; tones melt, drums turn into pistons and the sub wobble is off the chain. From "Zeroes" to heroes - this one is a keeper.
Oris Jay & Chris Innasound - "Ghost & Darkness" (5:11)
Krust - "Escape From Finland" (3:39)
Au & Jesta - "Just Don" (5:36)
Danny Scrilla - "Clockwerkz" (4:52)
Von D - "Ah So Let It Go" (4:40)
Akcept & Another Channel - "Don't Believe" (6:16)
Monic - "Storm Doris" (4:53)
Review: Let's just list the amount of stone cold bass OGs on this collection: Krust, dBridge, Om Unit, Danny Scrilla, V.I.V.E.K, Von D, Moresounds, AU, Oris Jay & Chris Innasound and whole load more of soundsystem culture's most innovative craftsman working at the deepest levels of the low end coalface all feature on this immense and forward thinking document. Including the curator Amit himself. Every track is a highlight, each one and abyssal, immersive experience but essential highlights include the toxic bass bounces of Moresounds' "They Can't Handle It", the 23rd century UKG of Oris and Chris' "They Can't Handle It" and Krust's big screen masterpiece "Escape From Finland". Amit deserves a holiday. Or a massive trophy. Or both. Bass compilations don't get much bigger than this.
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.
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.
Review: Following up great releases by EVA808, Epoch and V.I.V.E.K, American bass imprint Innamind returns with some deep dubstep - courtesy of Utrecht's Tomas Roels, better known to us as TMSV. Moody low-end pulsations permeate the powerful opener "No Sleep", while "Temple" gets off on a more uplifting vibe with its ethereal pads, creative rhythm arrangements and hypnotic melodies. Lastly on the flip, "Maniac Mansion" proudly wears its U.K. influence on its sleeve. Following up great releases for labels like Cosmic Bridge. Artikal Music and Black Box, Roels is, well - on a roll!
Review: Longstanding Innamind representative Mikael sparks up our inner freaks once more with two system-primed sub smashers. "Wildfire" see-saws on a pivot-like atonal riff over a lolloping sub/kick flow and big splash rimshots while "Lintumies" is a spacier jam where stretched outer-space aesthetics play games with your head and the bass keeps kicking you out of orbit.