Review: Rising 140 sculptor Samba proudly presents his own label 26.RAIN. Following a whole string of heavily supported releases on the likes of System Music, Deep, Dark & Dangerous and Encrypted, the label is a new outlet for a fresh synth-led fusion style he's been developing gradually. Deep, musical, not shy of an 808 or a two-step or two, there's a touch of UKG, wave and trap deep across both sides. "Acecloud" is the big neon dreamer of the duo while "Cookies" crumbles a little more delicately and introspectively. An excellent launch release, we're saving our rainy day money for 002.
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.
Review: Fragrant frequencies from New Zealand: newcomer Scent makes his official 12" debut on soundsystem celebrating Aussie imprint Modern Hypnosis with two beguiling modern dub cuts. First up is the pneumatic stamper "Trax" where the prominent beat patterns are offset by a slightly off beat warped stab to create a fun but focused marching sensation. "Just A Dream" plays the consummate foil as Scent takes us much deeper into his psyche by way of slo-mo sci-fi drums and swooning, star gazing chords. Beautiful.
Review: Schockglatze is a long standing collaboration between artists working across several disciplines. With audio-visual performances, band projects and international exhibitions thus far, they have been causing a stir within the art and music worlds. Spank has already collaborated with a range of acclaimed vocalists, including Warrior Queen, Sensational and Christoph Waltz. As a competent producer, he forms the solid basis for the studio productions of Schockglatze. Nik Nowak has attracted international attention with his mobile sound sculptures and worked with Chicago footwork pioneers like (the late) DJ Rashad and DJ Spinn as well as Kevin Martin aka The Bug. Graphic artist, VJ and video director Moritz Stumm aka Ultramoodem brings to the project an 'inimitable rhythmicity' while creating a singular technique of audio-visual effects: the aesthetic of which has become a signature style of the collective.
Review: Neither Scratcha DVA, nor any of these legendary tracks and artists on this release need any introduction. It's taken about eleven years but the two highlights of "DREAMEATER 007" - A side "Kill All A' Dem" and "Taliban"- finally see the light of day. On the B side, we have the man remixing Mega's "Dangerous Liasons" in wonky street level fashion before he turns his deft hand to take on scene hero Wiley's "Apocalypto", churning out an intense tribal thriller to round things off on this long overdue release.
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 hard to think of a DJ with the global profile of Nina Kraviz who runs a label as underground and innovative as trip. The latest comes from Shadowax, who has previously contributed to the label's compilations but now makes her full label debut. Unlike much of the frantic and frenetic material trip has dealt with in the past, this EP slows the tempos and explores more moody and hypnotic techno. Opener "Nikolai Reptile" is a super slow motion and dub rhythm with searching synth lines gently riding up and down the scale, while "Ochen" recalls the icy minimal perfection of Daniel Bell. "What About Me" has spoken word mutterings and paranoid, pressurised kicks that hurry you along and lastly "Mortal Talking" is a flurry of hyper-speed drums and synth loops to fully flip you out.
Review: Rarefied bring Sibla & Zygos together on this positively stinking piece of wax. Neither party a stranger to the label, and both armed with a particularly prominent sense of wonk and grit, the result is a triptych of grizzlers that will melt the pants of every member in the dance. "The Path" is pure electricity whomping back and forth, oozing over the kicks. "Haunted" is pure static, rusty chimes and occasional screams before the toxic bassline bites its way into the blend a little later than usual. "Sigil" closes the show with more of a rolling groove, hypnotic vocals and more beautifully pranged out textures. Rarefied bang on the money once again.
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: 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: Following their razor edge four-tracker earlier this summer Rinse co-founder and foundation grime pioneer Slimzee and new partner in crime As.If.Kid maintain the heat as they declare "Judgement Day" once and for all. Bell-chiming brutality with a rugged slo-mo jungle charm, there's almost a rock-like looseness to the drums and grunting bass as it rolls out with unique energy. Flip for a remix from fellow OG DJ Garna who reinforces As.If.Kid's "Shooter" with an authentic jungle rinse-out.
Review: Following last year's chest-pressing debut album A Music Of Sound Systems, Infrasonics scientist Spatial returns to Never Ready with two blistering originals that flex around the broken and 4/4 axis. "Netz Room" is sprung with a fractured grime aesthetic to the rhythm. Icy with just the right amount of drama, this causes commotions in all scenarios. "Hut 6" reminds us of Spatial's technoid mindset with a carefully sculpted deep hypnotic groove. Remix-wise J Tijn gets all fuzzy and broken while Munstac strips things right back and dusts off with a little timpani magic. Singular.
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: Boo selector! Grime / UKG don Spooky updates his GHD series with four more long-awaited versions he's had on persy dub. First is a VIP of his still ice-cold take on MssingNo's "XE2", neatly complemented with the dope Capo Lee fronted version that's been requested for the best part of five years now. Flip for two more crucial weapons as "Run 4 Cover" gives us a stuttering funk-up of Ini Kamoze and the dramatic "Apprentice Riddim" gets us doing the air violin and drawing up business plans and sales pitches before we even know it. You're fired!
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: Bristol's Temple Of Sound emerges with an inaugural release by Kent based DJ Tom Wood aka Sub Basics. Exploring some of the deepest strains of dubstep on the Shipment EP featuring brooding sound design and skillful execution of tension and suspense throughout. From the unsettling fever dream of the title track, the hypnotic freefall of "Ancient Eyez" where we start to hear some good old fashioned bass wobble for good measure. Finally on the flip we have "Keep It Moving" a fervent polyrhythmic workout that reaches near tribal moments.
Review: Los Angelenos Subtle Mind have been making not so subtle waves in the US bass scene for quite some time. Needless to say, Austin and Paul's debut release on Subaltern Records brings in a different style to the imprint with a flavorful and melodic yet weighty selection on the Ambitions EP. The title track features the rhyming of Ill Chill and truly rolls deep - this is proper west coast vibes with the sunroof down and spliff in hand! On the flip, be prepared for a massive bassline on "Gelato" complete with wonky synths and trap style hi-hats. Finally, things take a slightly more moody turn on "Standard Strain" (feat Saule) probably due to the addition of that snarling sub bass frequency, but mellowed out by those sampled vocal textures atop - a nice touch.
Review: Three years on from his last album, Skepta's profile has never been higher. Whereas he was once an underground hero railing against anti-grime sentiments and the misunderstanding of his art, he's now an international star with a string of guest spots on gargantuan US hip-hop hits to his name. Expectancy is high, then, for "Ignorance Is Bliss". Happily, we can confirm it's another strong set. His lyrics continue to bristle with intensity, while his flow and vocal delivery remain as distinctive as ever. As for the beats, they're heavy and punchy, variously doffing a cap to chart-bothering hip-hop, sleazy trip and distorted, sub-heavy grime. In other words, he may be a star, but Skepta's records remain as real as ever.