Review: Repress alert! Wednesday: Hyperdub announce a new three track release from enigmatic producer Burial - his first solo work in four years. Thursday: Said records arrive on Juno doorstep. How's that for service (and secrecy)! The news came just a matter of days after the producer's collaboration with Radiohead front man Thom Yorke and Four Tet arrived on record shelves across the UK and promptly sold out amidst a frenzy of hype. There are three new tracks on offer here, namely "Street Halo", "NYC" and "Stolen Dog". First up "Street Halo" showcases the classic Burial sound; subterranean bass gurgles, trademark clicking beats and barely-there vocal snatches. A sweet childlike vocal pervades the sonic mist on "NYC" while "Stolen Dog" closes out with ethereal vocal harmonies buried deep beneath vinyl crackle. Stunning.
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: 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: 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: 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: Hessle Audio's emergence from hibernation in 2012 really has seen the label release some of the most extraordinary music of its life, and this EP from Bandshell might top the lot. Tapping into the grainy, murky sound world of the like of STL, Shed and Actress, this record explores strange rhythms constantly on the verge of breaking out into a frenzy. The title track is comprised of little more than rattling percussion and dense, fizzy bass, while "Rise 'Em" places a jungle breakbeat atop a mucky hum. On the flip, "Metzger" takes the vibe of classic dubstep and fills it with subtle melodies and clipped snares, but "Dog Sweater" is the real killer - a homage to soundsystem culture whose threadbare rhythms are the only thing to stop you being dragged into the track's viscous centre. Make no mistake, this is a serious new talent.
Review: Torsten Profrock’s T++ project has continually spread its wings since conception in 2005. Championed by fans of techno, dubstep, experimental and drum & bass alike, his latest EP for Honest Jons (and rumoured to be his last under this monkier) showcases the amalgamation of styles and sounds that has earnt the German such a far reaching fanbase.
If it does prove to be the final T++ release ever, then the alias will have left us with the most expressive and energetic of his works. Adding a real sense of personality, Profrock unearthed a handful of samples of the singer and ndingidi player Ssekinomu, recorded in East Africa in the 1930s and 40s in the label’s vaults for this release. Skilfully, the producer works these snippets into the complex rhythm structures, giving his music a human touch that has never been seen before. Profrock looks to the radical fringe of UK garage for the snapping 2 step vibe in these rhythms that remain central to all four tracks on the EP. This results in a clutch of tracks that take on an immensely tribal and subconsciously innate feel. They morph new structures from the forms of 2 step, techno and drum & bass around which Profrock wraps twisted FX and weighty sub bass to create one whole, throbbing organism. So with quite possibly his final release, T++ leaves us, rather fittingly, with a record that sounds at once both ancient and modern. It has a totally unique tone, like a form of tribal language that can only speak to and be understood by today’s culture through these sub-heavy, atmospheric sounds.
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: A taster for the trio's forthcoming third album, Horizontal Structure, this single sees Von Oswald and collaborators Max Loderbauer and Sasu Ripatti (aka Vladislav Delay) further explore the notion of merging dub techno with other, previously unconnected styles. "Restructure 2" is a swirling, atmospheric piece, its languid, low-tempo groove accompanied by some tastefully spacey guitar playing and mellow jazzy vibes. It's understated, studied and about as far removed from Maurizio's "Ploy" as one can get, but yet it still retains much of the same cavernous production sound. The choice of remixer, Mala, is also surprising as it eschews Von Oswald's techno habitat in favour of dubstep. That said, the Digital Mystikz producer has a credible string of releases for DMZ, Tectonic and Soul Jazz, and like the Basic Channel producer, fully understands the power of the bass. There is also some subtle referencing to the time that Van Oswald first rose to prominence through the use of 'Intelligent Techno'-era melodies and the ambient outro, but Mala's remix is all about the tumbling drums and tribal, swinging rhythms.
Review: Volume Six of Tempa Allstars collects contributions from some of the underground music scene's pioneers and leading lights Skream. "Rollin' Kicks" begins the EP with a tapping drumbeat and a Breakage hued sonic palette (circa "Open Up") which is a million miles away from Magnetic Man. D&B-turned-dubstep minimalist Icicle steps up with "Anything". Crisp, acerbic breaks feature heavily, perfectly calculated beats and a futuristic touch. Falty DL adds a funky touch with "Sunday" as chirpy bleeps and bellows of bass underpin the fidgeting rhythms here, with notable sunny, upbeat vibes in the synth work. Benga injects a dose of humour with the ticking percussive lisp and robotic chant of "I Come From London" driving things along into a hypnotic state of sentiency. SBTRKTs "Sleep In Tokyo" is all broken, funked up beats, warm keys and delicately textured rhythms. Alix Perez brings the EP to a close with "Metric". Deep, atmospheric crackling, crisp SFX and rumbling subs roll along with dark menace. A superb finale to one of the finest releases in the Tempa Allstars series so far.
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.
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: Chow Down serves up its second release with the adventurous grime exploits of Fallow and DJ Chalice, twisting out all kinds of audacious bass shapes that would set the dance alight at parties such as Boxed. Fallow takes the A side with confidence, fresh from a release on Blood Frenzy, and "Blitz" shows the emergent producer is taking no prisoners with a hail of bullets and haunting Indian classical samples. "Northern Don" is a more wobbly synth-rich beat, while "Operation Dark Fruit VIP" amps up the grime strings. DJ Chalice has a lighter touch, bringing in some sunnier melodics and embracing the RnB influences on "Artois Anthem".
Review: Kahn & Neek return to local hub Peng Sound for some self titled double plated dubplate action under their steppahs project Gorgon Sound, housed in a rather lovely stamped gatefold sleeve. Although primarily known for their incendiary grime bangers on their own Bandulu imprint, and the dancehall sounds of last year's Backchat single, Kahn & Neek's steppahs-influenced Gorgon Sound project is a chance for them to expand on Bristol's rich legacy of dub, reggae, and soundsystem culture. Since the pair decided to begin the project in 2010, Gorgon Sound has since evolved into a full dubplate DJ operation, with a show made up of entirely their own material. Last year saw the Gorgon Sound project see its first vinyl release, in the form of "Find Jah Way", which featured on the debut released from Bristol's Peng Sound; this double 12" release presents a more expansive take on their steppahs sound, featuring four cuts of West Country bassweight with guest vocalist spots from Brazil's Junior Dread and Bristol's Guy Calhoun.
Old Apparatus - "Old Apparatus Meets Shangaan Electro" (4:00)
Review: Honest Jon's present the last twelve inch instalment of their impossibly varied Shangaan Shake remix project with the perma excellent MMM and Old Apparatus at the helm. Fiedel and Wiegand's take on the Tshetsha Boys is notable for two things: firstly it continues the duo's recent fascination with rhythms of a decidedly UK Funky nature (as executed with devastating effect on their recent Dex/Rio 12") and it further strengthens the impression Honest Jon's have given the commissioned artists a blank canvas to retain or toss as many elements of the source material as they deem fit. Thus recognisable snippets of the vocals remain alongside a brilliantly twisted treatment of the tinny melodics wrapped infinitely around butt slapping drum textures. Completely different in tone and execution, the elusive Old Apparatus invoke the spirit of Scratch Perry at his most intoxicatingly brilliant with a rusted, half stepping arrangement caked in all manner of feedback which serves to demonstrate how far reaching the project has been over the course of the 12" releases.
Review: Callum "Paleman" Lee is one of Swamp 81's most decorated artists, having released a string of well-regarded 12" singles for the hyped, bass-obsessed imprint. Yrs Ago is his third EP for the label's 81 offshoot, and sees him joining the dots between techno, post-dubstep bass music, and angular electronica. The title track sets the tone, with robotic voices, creepy electronics and smooth sub-bass riding a metallic, broken techno groove. Flipside "Animus" is a marginally more melodic affair, with spacey chords and bubbling arpeggio lines riding a punchy electro rhythm. Both tracks are naturally rather heavy, and undoubtedly amongst the producer's strongest work to date.
Review: Both an intriguing and very cool release on Hyperdub, Philly producer King Britt surfaces after a long absence with this new project that goes beyond his traditionally lush and funky nu-jazz and broken beat releases into a darker and chillier place. The Gary Numan-meets-Prince spank of "Chasing Rainbows" is a great starter, while the off-the-wall drum programming of "The Chase" and the filmic swathe of "Lilloo's Seduction" show a breadth of talent that can only come from being in the game for 15 years plus.
Review: Absolute damage: Spooky finally unleashes two of his biggest summer dubs. And he's doing it in pure pink vinyl style. Fiesta slaps with a well-known sample before hopping onto the gulliest skank of his life. The groove says party, but the bass says murderation. Flip for an even fruitier piece of funk as Eric Donaldson's reggae classic gets the murking it never knew it needed. Make no mistakes: Spooky is donning it right now.
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: 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: 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: Aside from having a stellar catalogue of releases that span from labels like Reflex to Hyperdub, Kevin Martin's The Bug project has been a foundational pillar of the UK dubstep and bass scene. if there has always been one producer to take things one step further and challenge the dance with each new tune, it's most certainly this producer. No wonder he's been releasing music on Ninja Tune for ages, and that he's back on the label now with this new EP. "Box" features revered grime MC D Double E on the mic, and the collaboration between the two results in utter carnage, a visceral grime banger backed by The Bug's twisted concoctions of beats and bass; check the instrumental, too. "Iceman" is a similar sort of curbside killer, this time with Riko Dan on the vocals, and followed by that gnarly instrumental cut...oof!
Review: The promise of Cooly G's releases for Hyperdub et al turns into maddening anticipation as the first taste of her forthcoming album sneaks out months ahead of the game! First up it's "Landscapes", co-produced with Simbad, and utterly devastating in its use of simple elements for maximum effect. A broken beat ticks steadily away under glossy, undulating streams of pads while Cooly herself enchants with her Neneh Cherry style vocal delivery. "It's Serious" on the flipside sees Cooly linking up with certified house legend Karizma for a more chunky, beat-driven offering that will slay floors in the same way that Altered Natives' "Rass Out" did some years back.
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: 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.
Review: Brand new label from House Of Wax: Jupiter's Moon touch down with two highly sought-after rubs from the touchingly talented Djrum. Taking two meditative system smokers from London nine-piece The Drop, Djrum flexes in two distinct ways; "Looking To The Sky" gets an upbeat two-step twist that's not dissimilar to old Kromestar joints while "Takeover" wallows much deeper in the dubwise aesthetics as a slinkier two-step riddim bubbles beneath a much heavier bed of textures, pads and mbira. On dub since 2011 and still smouldering to this day, these are vinyl only and not likely to hang around. You know what to do.
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: Busting open a brand new bottle of 2019 with his bare Mancunian hands, Walton returns to Pinch's Tectonic with his first fresh dispatch since his sophomore album Black Lotus. As always, it's a full-bodied assault as "Bullet 2" licks shots with technoid venom. "Inside" follows with a similar spirit but with even less layers of armour and a bouncier bassline, while "More Cowbell" does that toxic Pulse X style alien bass thing, gets all trippy with the percussion and seriously stampy with the kicks. Finally, we close with a bruked up G swagger on the spacious, foreboding "Gunshot Clap". Shots fired.
Review: Bristol label Peng Sound return to Rise, the Gorgon Sound EP released earlier this year with a fresh dose of versions from the Dubkasm crew that will satisfy every self respecting soundsystem operator out there. All four cuts from Kahn and Neek's release have been reworked and renamed by Dubkasm, who utilise their legendary soundtrac CM440 mixing console, carefully channelling the track's signals through chains of spring reverb, tape delays and specially crafted effects modulators. Dubkasm's DJ Stryda and Digistep have done an excellent job of plunging the Gorgon Sound even deeper into the realms of dub culture and the version theme extends to the artwork too with Tape Echo reworking the cover from the Gorgon Sound EP with equally impressive results
Review: Deep grime instrumentals; few labels are doing it like Oil Gang. The clue's in the title - the tight-knit London crew are dealing strictly in sinister, seeping, dark, slick sounds. This one's even darker than usual as Spooky drops the aggro and goes straight in with the deep dagger dynamics. All stealth-like and creepy, "Low Rider" isn't a track you want on your headphones walking home through the wrong postcode at night. Boylan ups the energy with a stampier twist the rhythm and a dramatic riff croaking from the humanized bass tones. Badness.
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: 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: 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: It's time to step into the Bristol shadows with Sector 7 once again as label co-runner Boofy invites Young Echo to the fray for two instrumental grime / dub hybrids. "Roll The Dice" pelvises with its dense subs and shimmering atmospheric textures while shattering trap snare roll and a mystic melody and skippy drum arrangement flicker in and out of the foreground. "Cane Sword" is a little more on the pure grime tip with some superb drum momentum, breathless atmospheres and cool samples that skid to a halt when you least expect them. Roll again...
Review: Finn "Drone" Donohue appears to be a producer on the rise. This may only be his second 12" single (his first slipped out last year), but he's already showing signs of developing a trademark sound all of his own. Both "Sapphire" and "Down This Way" are dark, clandestine and paranoid, with grime style stabs and spacey electronic effects clustering around a bustling, hot-stepping rhythm track that seemingly charges from the speakers towards your sound-space. Closer "East Coast", which is exclusive to the vinyl edition of this release, is arguably even more raw and aggressive, with colossal sub-bass pulses, creepy melodies and densely layered background textures (think cut-up vocal samples, white noise and unusual field recordings) all catching the ear.