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Reviewed this week
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Back after an absence of well over a year, the deep and moody Proxima is back in bass business, this time courtesy of Rinse. The beats are still around the 140 mark and the mood is still deep: "Trapped" kicks things off with some dark alleyway vibes - all shifty beats and general eeriness, "Fate" soon picks up the pace with some seriously anxious drum patterns and sweaty-palms-synth-pads and lastly the EP's heaviest track, "Fallout", is full of taut, writhing mechanical snarls. Still sinister, still fresh!
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Jim Coles has previously spoken about this second Om Unit full length being "a nod to the sound" of his "teenage self". Given the fact that he's rediscovered his jungle and hip hop roots in recent years, it's an accurate description. The fact that he's also mined Goldie's sample archive to help create the sound of Inversion is also telling. While it's not a straightforward jungle set - there are plenty of wonky moments, skewed downtempo interludes, footwork influences and trips into expansive IDMterritory - the skittish breaks, foreboding noises and murky textures all scream classic D&B. It adds a little spice to an already excellent set, delivering a range forward-thinking tracks with their roots firmly in the past.
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It's been a rapid rise for Paleman, conquering Swamp 81 in a short space of time and getting snapped up for remixes by all manner of respected entities, and here Calum Lee kicks up the dust on 81 with the anthemic parp of "Beezeldub". With those plastic horn blasts calling out, any dance worth its salt is going to lose its proverbials, and that's before the stripped and weighty core of the track kicks in. It's a cut perfectly toned and buffed for maximum club response, and it sits in a neat contrast to the more esoteric fare of "Newun". Where the lead track demands attention from the off, this second jam snakes in with a tricky rhythm and plenty of oddball, dubby effects for a more subtle and largely percussive effect.
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All-round bass legend Zed Bias touches down on Black Butter with a hot new single backed by a rather killer selection of remixes. Title track "Shizam" features the vocals of Stylo G and Scruffizer, and it's a purely grimed-out affair from start to finish, with a heavy touch of percussive action. Among the three remixes, grime legend Plastician makes a rare appearance with a reinterpretation that takes us back to FWD's early days - that bassline is a true slasher in every sense of the word.
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Deep bass and jacking mutations abound as Allmost leaps from Black Butter to Artifice with mischievous abandon. Sitting somewhere between Dirtybird and Clek Clek Boom, each of these three cuts are designed solely for dancefloor fun. From the quirky Von Stroke style mangled modem Q&A on the Monki-supported "Dial Tone" and the demonic, down-pitched vocal bubbles of "Booty Call" to the gritty teeth-baring 4/4 dubstep flavour of "Janet Jackson", Allmost is out to have a good time, and he insists you join him. For good measure he's also brought his mate Pelikann along for the ride. Driving a steppy, twisted future grime / mutated house blend, it's very reminiscent of My Nu Leng, which is definitely no bad thing.
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On 2012's Luxury Problems, Andy Stott delivered his most rewarding work yet - an impeccable exploration of the twin attractions of lightness and darkness that was near impossible to pigeonhole. Faith In Strangers, that album's belated follow-up, is similarly minded. Peppered with audible references to his many inspirations - field recordings, found sounds, dub techno, IDM, ambient, post-dubstep and trip-hop, in particular - it's a set that quietly drifts between sludgy dreaminess and pin-sharp late night horror. As such, it's an inspired set, with Stott's use of odd instrumentation and the evocative vocals of Alison Skidmore significantly enhancing the experience.
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The nomadic Mele lands on Quadrants after a diverse string of releases and remixes for the likes of Sounds Of Sumo and Mixpak over the past couple of years. He's been quiet of late, but he's back with a vengeance on "The Ritzy", a wavey half-step banger with rolling snares and some killer 808 action. "Learn 2 Love", on the other hand, is a true hybrid tune that incorporates jungle, hardcore and that early Chicago/Detroit sound with ease and style. Ace.
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In a final move within the sprawling vision of his Vapor City project, Travis Stewart offers up another albums worth of material that ties in to the online community he sought to create with the release of the initial album. It's everything you would hope for from additional Machinedrum material, melding soft and gentle melodic elements with razor sharp drum programming, bubbling footwork percussive tones, and enough playful ideas to keep things warm and inviting. There are some ruder moments, as in the bass rubbing throwdown "B Patient", but then there are some outright folky inflections such as the plucked guitar on "More Than Friends". Always surprising and never repeating himself, Machinedrum nails it once again.
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Straight out of Norway with a spread of online releases behind him, Drippin sidles up to Lit City Trax with a sound clearly enamoured with the UK club strains spelt out by the likes of Night Slugs and LuckyMe. "Waterfall" could certainly swing with the best of them, capturing a little of Visionist's spooky charm without going quite so far into the nether regions. The haunting chimes carry through on to "Kyoto", which works a few trap elements into the mix, before "Air Jordans" ramps up the percussion and strips back the synths for an intense and craftily constructed electro workout. "Memory Foam" seems to distill a healthy balance of both approaches, but "IDONO" turns up the intensity with a peak time sensibility that should absolutely wreck the dance.
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The newly founded Heretic imprint launches its catalogue with a collaborative effort by its main clan members in the form of a compilation. We don't know much about the respective artists, but what we can tell you is that they sure know how to construct some filthy UK bangers. Blame FR sets the gears into motion with "Fall Down", a rickety two-step number reminiscent of Hessle Audio's output. Harushi Clan's "Zulu" is a deeper, bass-pummelling number for the heads, Cloaka and Boxwork enter the dub territory on "Talk Some" thanks to some deranged horns, Barla's "Untitled" tune is the straightest lick yet and could go down a storm in any techno set and Circo's "Taxi" chucks in a seriously fat wobble bass amid minimalistic percussion and sci-fi atmospherics. Killer.
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The Finnish are not exactly renowned for being kings of house music, but Bob Citrus is quickly changing that notion one beat at a time. The man returns to L2S with a tight, floor-ready two-tracker, and as with his previous outings, there's a touch of old-school jack-house in "Feels",strangely reminiscent of Jeff Mills' "Changes Of Life". "Sappy" is a little more mellow but nonetheless fun and groovy, where sweet, shuffling drums swing back and forth amid smart vocal samples.
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Ever spreading their wings and snapping up labels left right and centre, Dark Sky deliver an EP for Mister Saturday Night that applies their complex and engaging approach to housier domains. First track "In Brackets" is a refined beast, tapping into the spiritual vein of artists like DJ Qu but employing a richer tapestry of sounds to intone the mystery. "5AM" by comparison is a much snappier proposition, sporting a vintage garage beat and cheeky trills of synth, while "Voices" burrows into a plethora of vocal micro-samples with purpose and a lot of layering. "Rare Bloom" rounds the EP off in stunning fashion with a measured roller that keeps the beat ticking steadily so that accomplished swells of synth can draw you in on a bold and thrilling journey of a track.
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Famously outspoken cult figure The Last Skeptik is back with new LP I Don't Even Like You on Barely Breaking Even, and he clearly hasn't lost any of the fire in his belly. There are seven tracks here, all teeming with a creative tension: from the pained electro-soul of opener "Show Me", to the slo-mo bounce of retro horror movie soundtrack "Cheerio" via the future-laser stripclub bleep-jam of "The Computer Love". Dope!
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Catz N Dogz have taken a leap of faith with their Pets Recordings label here on the Warsoul EP, eschewing the expected 4/4 house for something a little different. Celebrating new talent from deeper into their hometown Warsaw's clubland, we hear sounds with much more of a soul, R&B and hip-hop influence. Highlights include Teielte & Sonar Soul's hauntingly minimal footwork jam "Saturn", the Afrojazz meets half-step of "Kali" by Envee and the fuzzed-out, space soul of Archeo's "Warsoul".
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Having previously emerged with a 12" release on Bad Taste and a download on Secret Songs, Druid Cloak now steps up to deliver a new release for Apothecary Compositions fusing a whole range of styles from grime to footwork via a predilection for spooky imagery. "Wraithborne Falls" comes to life with orchestral bombast before whipping into a rapid-fire melee of sample triggering, while "Quills" is a slower if no less lively cut with a touch of trap in its rhythmic structure. The dramatic strings come on heavy throughout the min album, stringing together a variety of tempos to make for a cohesive and rather haunting release.
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Montreal's premier plush-stepper Jacques Greene is once again shoring his melodic tones up on LuckyMe island. This time around, "After Life After Party" takes you on a soaring, somewhat melancholic trip through rich swathes of yearning synth lines, making for a more reflective dancefloor moment that loses none of the punch and swagger. "1 4 Me" turns its focus inwards, using straining R&B vocal licks to offset the winsome chords for a truly autumnal slice of stepped club tackle. Suicideyear drop a slick and sugar-sweet electro take on "After Life After Party", while Sei A's version represents a more subtle and snaking kind of tech house confection rich with textures and tweaked-out sound effects.
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Snappily combining the worlds of outboard machine-driven production with modern bassweight club sensibilities, Rushmore is bringing an undeniably fresh style to the table on this latest offering for Trax Couture. "Drizzle" is a prime case in point, keeping an icy menace about the stripped production while a limber acid line flirts around the sharply snapping drum lines. "It's Me" is a more direct Dance Mania-style 4/4 throwdown, replete with ghetto house vocal lifts, and "Ment Drum" seems equally concerned with four-to-the-floor ruffness albeit without the paeans to female body parts. "Highroad Works" switches things up a treat for the last track, dropping the tempo way down low and playing with string stabs in a fractured stylee that makes for something genuinely original.
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Who's tried to attempt Lucid's finger 'Heartagram' and failed miserably? Well, we reckon its Photoshopped anyway and that's our excuse. More easily attempted is listening to the record, which features four excellent, otherworldly synth jams. The title track is all delirious trance stabs, pitched vocals samples and build ups, "Pops 2" is an electronic ricochet grinder, "Pops 1" dips into doomy trap territory and "Galant" is all warped synth motifs and carnival snares, but we're still wondering what Richelle's input is.
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Having already proved himself as a producer to watch with releases on Mr Mitch's Gobstopper Records and Visionist's Lost Codes label, Bloom comes through with this beast of an EP on Crazylegs. Hydraulics is about as apt a title as could be applied to these four tracks, each of which sound like a an orgy of mechanical pistons and grime percussion. Those into the recent work of Mumdance will be right at home here; "Cold Grip", the paranoid siren alerts of "The Menagerie", stripped-back laser and drums combo of "Dark Light" and terrified human breaths and sliced-up synths of "Vessel" come together to make up one of the most downright enjoyable grime releases of the year.
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As someone who has almost exclusively released music aimed at the soundsystem, it's a rare treat to see Peverelist (back under his full nom de plume) dipping into a concept as esoteric as Bass Clef's 12000 Seconds series. With specific track lengths to compose to, Pev has summoned up everything from a cosmic six-second ident to a sci-fi tech n' step whirlwind in "Caught A Glimpse". "In A Spin" feels closer to some of the early Pev melodic mantras, while "Kinetics" doffs its cap to the tart synth lines of grime, and "OK Run It" heads into futuristic hybrid territory. However in the briefer pieces in between, you get a glimpse at an artist playing around with sound design free of the pressures of a composed arrangement, which is a welcome window in on a highly regarded creative soul.
Exclusives
DRUID CLOAK - Lore: Book One (Apothecary Compositions)
LUCID - Heartagram (Pelican Fly)
PROXIMA - Trapped (Rinse)
Exclusives
BLAME/HARUSHI CLAN/CLOAKA/BARLA/CIRCO - Heretic - Compilation 001 (Heretic) - exclusive 24-11-2014
PALEMAN - Beezeldub (81)
VESPERTOWN - King George/Sugar Rush (Rinse)
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