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For those that are in the unknown, TQD is made up of Royal T, bassline queen Flava D and the iconic DJ Q. For reference, that ain't Qu from NYC; this dude is from Scotland, he's been a legend since the 90s, and has been a monumental pillar of the house scene ever since. UKG is the duo's latest LP for the entrepreneurial Butterz label, and it's an honest, direct vision of the enlarged UK bass movement from their point of view. This sublime selection of killers spans the full circle and makes absolutely no excuses for itself; the gear is tough, floor-minded and charged by a hefty load of bass. Grime, garage and house are mashed up good and propah. Like they should be. Dopeness...
Houle is one of the most quietly prolific techno producers out there and on his latest album for Items & Things sees him push in a deeper direction than before. There are echoes of Houle's minimal past throughout Sinister Mind - and it is most evident on the rickety "Conbular" - but the strength of this work lies in its author's abilities to fuse precise, dissected rhythms with diverse sound pallettes. This results in the Aril Brikha meets Minus deep techno of "Paligama"; the title track, where Dave Gahan-style vocals are merged with evocative chords and the ebm-influenced groove of "Maskatron". Houle even turns his hand to underground electro on "Bassoffific", where bugged out 808s come together with his microscopic percussion to form an unusual, highly distinctive arrangement.
More solid bass goodness here courtesy of the Second To None crew. Livesy clashes here big style with Rude Jude with some seriously funky sparks flying about. The 90s are all over this EP like rash with "Crazy" being the perfect Moschino-clad skippy UKG (with a hint a modern wobble too). Elsewhere "Can We Go There" fuses soulful yearning with thumping speed garage, whilst Pallace turn it into melodic electro-house. The title track also gets remixed, with Palize turning in some classic-sound piano house and Holly finishes with a cheeky hardcore-rave-meets-trap rework.
A veteran of the 90s club scene who always keeps it fresh, DJ Q stays on top of his game here, with "Naked Truth" featuring the power vocals of PowerDress. Clocking in at just three minutes, this disco confection is all about being short and sweet. And why not? Jazzy pads lend a touch of UK soul to proceedings; whist steppy beats power bouncy bass lines. Real garage. Happy days.
Legendary UKG crew Sunship take us back to 2008 on a cut that's been crying for digital release forever. The timing is perfect as we continue to enjoy exciting surges of creativity and energy in the realms of breaks, UKG and bassline. Armed with Warrior Queen's fierce tongue, each cut rattles with a vibe that, in hindsight, seem to have been made with 2017 in mind. Kalbata gets busy on the classic breaks, the two-step mixes shine with signature Sunship soul while the 4x4 wouldn't go amiss in a Darkzy or Mr Virgo set. More necksnap drama can be found on the Ragga Flex while the Dancehall Mix strips the feels right back with sexy results. No vibe stone unturned, everyone is catered for right here.
Don't judge me because everything's lovely... Big up Dekar Da Don, the dance needs more lyrical positive sentiments like this. Big up the turbo-rising foursome Foor, too - the beats, groove and switch from 4x4 slappage to necksnap rave are all ridiculously on point right here. As it WavyD's direct and devastating bassline mix. Serious heat, as always with Foor and Four40. Four thumbs up.
Fresh from a little gully foolery on Stanton Warriors' Punks, Midnight Phulin steps over to Saucy with another out-and-out club thumper. Chunky kicks and bellowing bass complete with mic damage from Tyler Clacey, there's a real grimy momentum throughout. Remix-wise Barely Royal & Bunnie flip the switch as they ride from soothing wavey intro to a gritty two-step and back again, Revaux provides the essential 170 switch up while Tall Order supersize the chunk with a real cheek-slapping house twist. One killer original, three ace diversions - Saucy continue to smash it.
Last spotted edifying the masses on Four40 last summer, Tuff Culture returns with four more unique blends. As with previous releases, his balance of shades, musicality and production dynamics is precision: "Easy" rolls with a tightly-plucked guitar riff before pushing you deep into the warped-bass sludge, "Lust" takes big early 90s synth hooks and a diva vocal and wraps them around a bassline that, in any other context, would be pretty harrowed while "Not Alone" does a similar meltdown with a piano hook and more of a jacking 4x4 bassline chug. Each cut really bringing fresh influences together, Tuff Culture's got a sound like no other right now.
Last spotted on Roska Kicks & Snares two months back on the latest instalment of the label's "Allstars" series, Bristol's Majora returns with two more darked-out bass jams. "Valbandon" thumps with an uptempo moombah feel, switching between solid 4/4s to a more a broken groove and a whole palette of tribal elements. "Armour King" takes us deeper into straight up raw house music, all drums, dubby overlays and a sub that tugs at your waistline, we have no doubt how well this will go down in Ibiza this summer. Un-sleep-on-able.
The YosH imprint clearly likes to partake in a bit of UK bass experimentation, and its selection of artists have all been handpicked for their ability to slot into the label's catalogue with utter ease. This is Tyrone, a multi-talented electronic producer who is as good at making garage as he is disco or techno, and "Ravin Face" is direct evidence of an artist who understands UK bass music through and through; there is everything from dubstep to house in its groove, and the tune's inimitable vocal hook will have you humming in no time. "Reload", on the other hand, is more of a classic garage lick except for its deadly succession of bass knives circling the groove with a touch of evil will. This is some straight-up nasty material. Bang.
A one-time Brand New Heavy, Ceri Evans reigned supreme in the 90s. His insistence on always pushing his sound forwards has helped him stay fresh. Almighty Father was a cray-cray minimal ghetto bouncer that blew up back in 2004, with everyone from Gilles Peterson to John Peel playlisting it to death. Now the beast returns in remixed form. Solid Groove's dub is a serious banger that fuses tropical drums with Warrior Queen's MC fiyah. Sunship's own remake is mechanical and harsh, while the "Pump mix" adds electro attitude and the "Sunship VS Chunky 4_4" is a fun slice of retro speed garage.
Shattering stuff from Scottish murk scud Cleaverhype on New Movement: "Bare Knuckle" lives up to its name with savage snare punches and aggy momentum throughout while "Chinzei" puts more emphasis on Cleaver's UKG influences thanks to its spacious steppy arrangement and treacle-like subs. Finally man-of-the-moment Celladore rucks up the title track with haunted bass tones and industrial strength halfsteps. Total knock out.
London's Jack Baxter is up next on forward thinking bass label Wot U Blud and has also thrown down some fat beats on Low Pitched Records, Nu Wave and Broken too in recent times. The Phaze Reversal EP starts off with the brooding title track, which is powered by a four to the floor beat and soothing ethnic style strings until that gnarly sub bass takes over in fine form. "My Love" gets off in more broken fashion, beat wise, with a bouncy bass and UK garage style hollers with diva vocals: this is proper street sound! Finally "Nerve" is the darkest offering here: deep dubstep at its seething and paranoid finest.
TQD - Ukg (Butterz)
MR VIRGO - Hypnotical EP (Crucast)
CLEAVERHYPE - Bare Knuckle (NM Recordings) - exclusive 17-04-2017
TUFF CULTURE - Synthesis (Four40)
TYRONE - Ravin Face (YosH)
DAZE PRISM - Phaze Reversal (U Wot Blud) - exclusive 17-04-2017
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