Reading's Jook 10 is getting better at this album thing - it took ages for his debut album Darkside to arrive, and now the follow up, Contraversial, is here just one year later. Skill-wise, his spelling may be controversial, but certainly not his production techniques and here we get 10 impressive examples of them. Highlights include the tropical-keyboard-falling-down-the-stairs eccentricity of "How Come", the apocalyptic voodoo garage of "Feelings" and the slammin' speed garage bounce of "Fuse".
West Midlands finest, Nu Era, are back on their preferred label, Four 40, for more forays into the bass music universe. Their wide range of influences is again showcased here, so we get booming, badd ass, night cruiser trap on "Red Box", deep, sumptuous and off-kilter jazzy swing step on "Runaway" and wobble-heavy feelgood piano house on EP closer, "Have You".
Black Butter know a thing or two about uncovering new talent and with Wayward they've struck gold again. Ugestu is their debut EP, but this London duo already reveal a maturity beyond their years through its six tracks. There is a hazy Balearic vibe throughout, but standouts include the sunkissed wash splashes and distant bass of "Reverie", the sleek and low electro-funk of "Hurricane" and the brittle future-soul-step of the title track.
It's as good as a debut outing here for Nurve, who gets snapped up to Tectonic after just one previous airing on the Pinch b2b Mumdance mix that surfaced earlier in 2014. In line with Pinch's current explorations into dark strains somewhere between his foundational dubstep and gnarly techno, "Wrong Number" strikes a positive chord with all the nastiest elements. "Clik Clak" gets busy with the sound design and some advanced arranging, keeping space and flexibility in the mix even with a dizzying amount of sonic details. There's plenty of the hardcore continuum to be enjoyed across this release, even as the production levels reach to the most wild ends of the electronica spectrum.
The lead single from Dark Sky's debut album Imagin has the potential to win them many a fan with its impassioned vocal turn and crisply-realised melancholic step, building into a beautifully crafted melodic crescendo that resonates perfectly with the shortening days. By way of remixes, Trevino is up first with the dramatic "Heartbeat Remix", which interestingly eschews any kick drum in favour of rousing bass swells and stabbing hats. Marcel Dettmann meanwhile takes a long time to fully reveal himself, letting the vocal sit stark on its own and teasing the full thrust of the track in gently with some powerful synth strings to boot.
Things sound positively regal over at Local Action this week with the orchestral pomp and ceremony of emergent Irish producer Shriekin. Taking the rhythmic backdrop and plastic strings of grime, Jack Sheehan has whipped up some remarkably advanced tracks that positively overflow with imaginative ideas. "Cat's Eyes" in particular is a rich and slightly mad elegy of parping string hits and cheeky bass, while "Snowy Island Breaks" makes things ruffer without dimming the plush melodic touches and high definition sound. "Temple 2" shimmers and shines with twinkling arpeggios and crushing half step beats, and "Steel Ships" nudges off into more thoughtful territory without losing that starry-eyed energy.
MokuJin steps up with a killer new LP - all focussed on the "AM / PM" track - on his home label, Blaq. The dude hasn't released on many other labels, but everything he's made is pure fire from start to finish. Ranging from deep, sweltering bass music to garage swings and more, Mokujin is fast becoming a name in the UK game. The track features Mr.Brainz and there's a whopping six versions of it in this tight little package. Our choice cuts are the Berlin mix for its shuffling percussion, and the Future Garage mix because it's both funky and totally freaky at the same time. If you're into your garage, this is the spot this week!
Brighton's future soul duo Anushka recently dropped their debut album, Broken Circuit, to great acclaim. Now they're back with a new single and album highlight, "Atom Bomb". Deep sensual and jazzy, with scattershot beats and heavily harmonised vocals, the original is a beguiling slice of modern urban soul. There are some great mixes too including NameBrandSound's seductive slo-mo footwork rework, as well as their own VIP mix which adds a dubbier vibe to proceedings.
Hailing from the Netherlands, Animal are a duo who produces soulful indie-tronica by "crushing refined synths with acoustic and electronic samples". And to think most people just play their instruments, how very passe. Intended to tell a story about the paradox between loneliness and light, the Lights EP contains four stunningly produced tracks: the eerie, Thomas Newman-esque piano lament of "Intro", the ghostly whispers of "Lights", the scattered, fuzzy shuffle of "Falling Down" and the enchanting, almost conventional, downtempo synth ballad of "Spotless Mind". Ice cool.