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: 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: 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: Without argument, Terror Danjah has been one of the most influential and respected producers in the grime scene since day one, and "Invasion" is his sixth album. Fully instrumental and loaded with ideas, samples and a myriad of musical twists and turns, this far excels any standard grime boundary and celebrates everything that's great about UK bass and beatmaking culture. Every beat has its own story; the soulful swoons on "Scene 1", the absolute gully daggers of "Snowfall", the wheezy eastern pipework of "TBC" and the dense, intense head-spin "After Dark". Total blueprint business and releases at a very poignant time. We wish Terror a speedy and full recovery.
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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: Fresh in the chem trails of his Bandulu release, the inimitable Bengal Sound crash lands back into our psyches with his disarming, not-of-this-world take on 140 music. "Young Skeleton" arrives just in time for Halloween, scaring the dickens out of us with its warped humanised tones, dusty atmospheres and distant chimes. "Coroners" takes us from the graveyard to the morgue... But with these hazy arpeggiated trinkles and eerie shimmers are we stepping towards the light or simply waking up? That's for you to work out.
Review: Epoch returns! And he's packing some of his rarest steez since "Soundboy Abduction". All air raid sirens, trippy widescreen basses and a scientific spoken word all comprise to form a brutal wall of sound slo-mo drama on "V1" while "Roacher" bubbles with a technoid sense of playfulness and unpredictability. Finally "Rib Cage" takes the surreal sensations to even higher levels with a melting intro, nagging hi-end percussion and the strangest harmonic strings ever to grace an Innamind release. Truly singular.
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: 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: Two massive Pinch classics taken on by the mighty Kromestar; need we say more? Pinch's 2010 speaker shredder "The Boxer" gets an absolute fouling with epic distortion on the bass and swaggering drums. It's so heavy it's been on dub for at least two years. Flip for Kromestar's take on Pinch's 2011 Deep Medi murker "Swish" as it's given a bullet proof suit of armour ready for any militant war scenario. Both absolutely destroy the dance.
Review: It was only a matter of time before Boofy landed on Pinch's Tectonic. Both Bristol. Both magnetised to the fringes. Both responsible for untold low end hurters like these... "Back In The Box" is a heavy pressure cut with pneumatic kicks and ominous stretched brass textures while "Herbie" is a highly strung piece that's stripped back to just drums, subs and an eerie faltering lead and builds and twists when you least expect it. Flip for the churchy chords and rattled percussion of "In My Head" before "Perfunktion" closes with jazzier chords and a stone cold steppy kick arrangement. Classic Boofs.
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: 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.
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: 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: 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: Since delivering his first 12" four years ago, Theo Bennett AKA Sepia has become once of the most celebrated producers on the deep dubstep underground, delivering singles for Gourmet Beats and Infernal Sounds - amongst others - that push the style's accepted boundaries. His first Wheel and Deal outing ticks similar boxes. He begins by encasing crunchy beats and heavy sub-bass in chiming music box melodies on "Last Chance Saloon", before doffing a cap to grime on the intoxicating, near tropical heaviness of "Kira". Turn to side B for inspired Koma collaboration "Embalment" - a stuttering, shuffling treat rich in atmospheric chords and ear-pleasing melodies - and the more dub-wise pressure of closer "Frequency".
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: 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: 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: 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: 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.