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You know the drill; it's another monumental compilation from London's 20/20 Recordings, the fresh-faced dubstep label, which can mean only quality and quantity above all else. There is plenty for any sort of bass fan to sink their teeth into right here, starting from the murky waters of Deft's future-dub, though to Belatron's icy grime-like riddims, and Caution's noxious hybrid beats. All in all, there's no one genre here, just pure vibes, and a great deal of low frequencies form the deepest, darkest corners of the UK's production scene.
London's Night Slugs are back with their class of 2016 and if this is anything to go by, it's going to be quite the graduation party. Be prepared for some bass driven, street level, low end theories as per usual. There's Bok x Sweyn J featuring Semma on the sexy future R&B of "Good 2 U", Helix with some superb hyper-riddims on the explosive and syncopated "Funky 1irst", while label mainstays appear too, rest assured. There's Jam City with the brooding and powerful rhythm workout of "Direct Drums" and of course L-Vis 1990 with the sultry vocals of Ronika on the late night noir thriller "Sweet Spot".
It hasn't exactly taken Otik a very long time to build up an impressive catalogue of warped bass tunes and, thanks to releases for the likes of Infinite Machine and Tessier-Ashpool, the producer is now a string contender among the very best in the low-frequency game. "Acne Downs" starts off this new EP for Durkle Disco, and it's a mix of the best elements from the broken beat and garage subgenres, leaving Caski's remix to dub the mix down into outer space. "Big Bad Wolf" is a grime stepper in all senses of the phrase, a murky, curbside killer backed by some menacing London-style vocal slayings.
Sheffield's JG may not be Ballard but there's still plenty of crash in his upfront hard-hitting bassy productions. Cave Explorer may be his most fierce yet, boasting two cuts that literally provide passage to the underground. The title track is all about the hip-hop string samples, jukey percussion and lots of wobbly metallic subs. He brings some serious fiyah on "Selektar" though - with distant police sirens mixing with scattershot beats and eccentric basslines. This produce has ventured deep underground and has discovered pools of creativity hidden beneath.
After a brief debut appearance for Brotherhood Sound System earlier this year, it was about time that LKY had the opportunity to get his point across with a full EP, and the young Artifice label have done the right thing here. In fact, it was his tune that we particularly loved from that BSS release, so it's no surprise that these four tunes are all total mind melters, and exactly the sort of bass music that is keeping the game from sounding stale. "Critical" and "Ridicule" are both total killers, two rolling, beat-heavy tunes with backed by phat layers of subbass, and propelled forwards by some truly intricate drum programming. "Stative Decision" is more of a techno tune than anything else, except that LKY still manages to inject some of that inimitable UK sensibility, leaving PAN:INC's remix of "Critical" to cap this highy recommended release with some truly militant percussive stabbing. Excellent and tipped.
Pixelord's ferocious sequence of beats and bass bumps is showing no signs of withering onto the deeper end of the bass spectrum. In fact, this new release for the fledgling Heka Trax might just be his most poignant moment yet. That's because the opener "Heart Beat" resembles the sort of dubstep that evolved out of Bristol's Punch Drunk crew, a stuttering bric-a-brack of tribalism wrapped up in a techno coating, and this is similar for "Twisted Zone", except that here the groove resembles the Berlin 4/4 tradition even more. There are two remixes, the first is Otik's broken version of "Heart Beat", whereas FreshtillDef rewires "Twisted Zone" into a raw, disjointed, pseudo jungle lick for the next decade. Big tunes.
Rico Tubbs runs London's Bass=Win with Terry Hooligan and returns with more street level low end theories here on the Re-Animated EP: a bunch of stellar remixes from their most recent releases. Starting off with the bombastic, ragga-inflected Reese devastation of "Bullets" (Mij Mack remix), "Ghost Rider" (Papuga remix) goes for some modern funky house flavour in the tradition of the legendary Michael Gray (Full Intention) while "Rolling Proper" (YYVNG remix) does exactly what it says on the tin with this deep down and dirty UK funky throwdown.
Despite being one of Southpoint's 'original family members', the debut release from Brighton's Ceezus and Illa has only just now arrived. The Conquer EP features what they describe as 'three high-powered grime instrumentals', which is only partly true as they draw on much wider influences than grime itself. The title track is full of hip-hop swagger - brassy riffs and rattlesnake percussion - and is given a bouncy 4 x 4 makeover by Tengu and a rabid, doomy and eccentric rework by Aerotonin. Elsewhere they look to ancient Japan on "Ronin" and they chill out on the atmospheric "Wasted".
Nphonix and Car Crash Set go together like beats and bass, a perfect unison that forms a mutual bond with one another. The label has done well to pick him up for this four-tracker because these might just be the artist's best tunes yet, and a real testament to the level of creativity that is still taking place within UK dance music. "Hijack" is neither house nor dubstep, but manages to merge the two into seamless groove, and "Ijustdontunderstand" takes the same equation but adds a little garage sensitivity to into the formula. "IceVII" is a swinging, wall-to-wall house bomb with a heavy UK element at its core, leaving Gillepsy's remix of "Hijack" to offer a more traditional house approach. Mighty fine.
Modeselektor and Apparat's Moderat project has, by now, become a staple of modern electronica. This isn't a surprise; the material these two sets of producers come up with ticks all the boxes, and has the the power to appeal across the underground masses thanks to its subtle infusion of pop. This latest album for the Monkeytown imprint brings together their last few years of work under one roof; precisely, these tunes are all live versions of their biggest hits. Tunes like the mesmerising "Ghostmother", or the more progressive "A New Error", have new life breathed into them with this live approach. The originals were already moving and hypnotic as they were, but these versions certainly add an extra layer of charisma to these wonderfully timeless tracks.
LKY - Critical EP (Artifice) - exclusive 05-12-2016
OTIK - Acne Downs (Durkle Disco) - exclusive 09-12-2016
CEEZUS & ILLA - Conquer (Southpoint) - exclusive 12-12-2016
VARIOUS - Night Slugs Allstars Volume 3 (Night Slugs)
NPHONIX - Procrastinative  (Car Crash Set)
PIXELORD - Heart Beat (Heka Trax)
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