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Reviewed this week
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Just recently, Midlands bass duo Hybrid Theory dropped their anthemic "That's What It Is". Now they're keeping the heat on with a left hook of a follow-up EP of remixes. There are four interpretations here - a grimy garage growler by Flava D, Kissy Sell Out delivers a dirty house grinder laced with a techy fizz and Grime wraps things up with a deep and low urban snarler.
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Rising Leeds producer Joedan has announced that this is the last we'll hear of him until sometime in 2015, when big things are expected upon his return. In the meantime we have The Drop EP to keep us occupied so that's good news for bass lovers everywhere. There are four sizzlers here that cover wobbly 4x4 on the title track, sultry minimal house on "Kind Of Grooves", dreamy space garage with extra bounce on "Crooked" and seductively deep UKF on "Dial Tones". That's all the bass we need for Christmas!
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We last heard from this New Yorker back in June, collaborating with MDME, now he's got round to rustling up a new solo release in the form of these three tracks, all of which dwell firmly on the dark side. "Angel" kicks things off with some brainmelting tech-hop (remixed into some brilliantly evil deep dubstep by Archive), "Control" samples Hot Streak's breakdance classic "Body Work" and welds it to some sinister tribal beats (remixed into some peak time wobbly bassline by Flava D) and "Grim Reaper" rounds things up with a relentless carnival-fuelled assault.
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After a quirky low-beat skit-style intro, the Frothy fella bubbles over with "Cosmo". A fly-by breakbeat bust up. Reminiscent of Tyrant circa 2000, there's a really grittiness to the groove. Dig deeper for bleepy two-step ("Dip Dive"), rolling old school amens ("Tools") and a slinky bongo roller that nods respectfully at Jaydee's "Plastic Dreams" ("Live Notes"). We end with "Body X JD", a steaming slab of 23rd century garage. Handshake what your mamma gave you.
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Gage burst onto the scene earlier this year with a pair of killer grime-meets-techno tools on Crazylegs, and here he returns with ballroom vocalist Kevin JZ Prodigy for what is undoubtedly one of the label's best tracks to date. Gage's production is some of his tightest yet, offering the kind of track that will no doubt be getting more than a few rewinds, but it's Prodigy's vocal gymnastics that steal the show in what must be one of the year's most impressive performances. Essential!
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More low end fighting talk from Lisbon leftfield kings Enchufada. The Clerk ignites the taper with the hypnotic, body-slamming charms of "Cairo" before Robs & Duke get lively with a guitar-twanging tribal stepper "Bring The Fire". With tempo, pace and attitude fully locked from the off, we're sucker-punched by the punctuated percussion of "Helicopter Riddim" and jabbed by other-worldly flute wheezes on "Moombasa" before laying down gracefully for the full count with "Sexton". An enchanting pipe blend over a slo-mo moombahton, if you're going to be knocked out, make sure you're knocked out by the best. Genuinely unique.
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To top off another successful year of vogueing, ghetto-steeped, footworkin', Fools and Rushmore - the men behind the House Of Trax club and label - present this new EP by Parisian-in-London Sylvere Letellier. It's a strong release featuring four slamming sizzlers, from the breaking and entering opener "Alarm System" to the eccentric ping pong jam of "Sanctuary" via the pumpin 4/4 house of house of "Hackney" and the deep and melodic cut up jam, "Industrial Roving". Sound!
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It's been a while since the last fresh outing of James Blake material, and he surfaces on his plenty active 1-800 Dinosaur imprint with some typically esoteric material that confirms he still exists in his own unique sound world. "200 Press" is a track that evolves with elegance, with an electro thread powering the track while around drift wild bass notes, displaced vocals and occasional chimes, and still it grows into a spellbinding crescendo infected with ghetto swagger. "200 Pressure" takes a more obscure and yet bombastic approach with strange punk inflections, lurid synth intervals and a lot of found sound disturbance. "Building It Still" by way of comparison lets a little of the more classical musicianship sneak in, leaving odd poem "Words That We Both Know" to round off the EP on an ambiguous but personal note.
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Kevin "The Bug" Martin and Dylan "Earth" Carlson have finally teamed up for a collaborative release on the UK's mighty Ninja Tune. To be honest, both the artists and the label have all achieved institutional status by now, so you know its highly recommended from the onset. Each artist has been involved in many scenes and genres over the years, ranging from ambient metal to minimal drones and experimental two-step and "Boa" is exactly that, a weird and wonderful mixture of styles and influences. "Boa" and "Cold" share a slow tempo and a set of heavy, metallic guitars weaving over desolate soundscapes and rattling percussion. This is cinematic music to say the least.
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Boxed resident JT The Goon returns with another Oil Gang plate, and this time arrives with Murlo in tow for some solo and collaborative action across four tracks. JT The Goon offers "Garden of Eden", a half-step piece of grime with big strings and heartwrenching square waves, while Murlo takes things on a more minimalistic tip with "Cold Stroke". Murlo also offers a remix of JT The Goon's "Twin Warriors", but it's "Plume" that offers the standout moment, a collaborative track with an anthemic lead.
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This split EP finds two artistic sides of the same mind being pitted against each other for Sydney's Templar Sound imprint, with Tuff Sherm's nagging 4/4 meeting with Dro Carey's rhythmically deviant electronica and yet holding together remarkably well. Eugene Ward is clearly comfortable in either cap, although Tuff Sherm's "Scope" is likely to be the runaway dancefloor success of the EP. That said, the submerged techno thurst of DJ Vague's remix of "Human Parcel" could well find its way into the bags of some deeper techno selectors, channelling the aquatic electro of the Dro Carey original to great effect.
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After outings on Sound Pellegrino and No Brainer among others, Douster lands on his feet for the fledgling (Re)Sources label with a raucous new four-tracker. "Raptor" is more animal than track thanks to its rolling flurries of sharp percussion; "RZ" and "YZ" are both nasty, stripped-back bombs with enough chills to carry you through a storm, while "Ninja" takes an almost D&B tempo, flips it on its head and comes out all guns blazing with some proper beat flexing. More from Douster, please!
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Hailing from Berlin, Soda Plains is the latest producer to reassemble club music into strange new forms, joining the likes of M.E.S.H. and Lotic in combining mainstream textures with experimental structures. The label describes these two tracks as "dance music stripped of any territorial markers: trans-everything garage, global funky, pan-club, decentralized grime," and it's hard to disagree. Both "Rushes" and "Not Tonight" bump and flex like futuristic dancehall that's been pushed into the 3D realm complete with atmospheric reverb clatter that puts most industrial music to shame. Absolutely killer stuff.
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As part of a collaboration between Ninja Tune and Serato, New York's Nick Hook has drawn upon a dizzying cast of characters to stitch together this EP of weighty funk jams that carries the torch from the early days of early West Coast electro. "JAMIT" is especially 80s flavoured with its impeccable guest turn from Egyptian Lover, while there's a spooked out trap vibe at work on "Going Back 2". Meanwhile Todd Edwards helps out on the pop-tinged, airy diversion of "Jaco", while Parliament legend Bernie Worrell lends some freaky synth lines to low-slung funker "Wurly". As you might imagine it's an eclectic listen but each track sounds powerful in its own right, while the rugged simplicity of the production holds everything together just right.
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Plucked out of early '00s obscurity thanks to an exuberant Numbers reissue in 2012, Unspecified Enemies represent something of a secret weapon for all those hip to their dynamic, party rocking electro game. This latest reissue on the Glaswegian powerhouse contains snippets from an unreleased live cassette recording some 15 years old, and the tracks are more than worthy of this unearthing. "Ms.45" slams and stretches in all the right places, wringing out a nasty funk with classic samples mashed into a futuristic whole, while "Chip Mode" doffs its cap to Dance Mania and essentially proves that juke and footwork were alive and well long before the likes of Addison Groove caught on to it. This is muscular, gutsy techno and electro plastered with detail and yet never cumbersome, and that's no mean feat.
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Brooklyn producer Lil Jabba has already popped up on Local Action once before, and it makes sense seeing as his limber sound tips its hat to Night Slugs futurism while also being rooted firmly in the US footwork style of rhythmic delivery. It's playful stuff, from the cheeky keyboard breakdown section of "Stalka" to the madcap jazz and funk samples flitting around razor sharp construction "Dusty". "Skates" shows off Jabba's diversity with a slower, more atmospheric piece, and "Tea" takes things even further into introspection, but there's also space for faster material such as the rigid junglisms of the beat programming on "Silencer". All the way through though the EP is made consistent thanks to the glassy, beautifully realised synth lines and keen deployment of melodies.
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